Police Abuse: 5 years, 30 000 complaints, only 1.3% criminal conviction rate

The ANC government’s violent record of police abuse and the low rate of convictions is a national disgrace which exposes the ANC’s shameful hypocrisy.

Last week the ANC launched a campaign against police brutality. This, while between 2018 and 2019 almost 6000 South Africans suffered police brutality under the ANC-controlled South African Police Service (SAPS).

This is exactly the same hypocrisy that we see from the ANC when they make bold statements about combatting corruption and graft while their cadres remain the biggest plunderers of state funds.

While the lockdown has seen an increase in complaints of police abuse fueled by Minister Cele’s reckless comments and a state drunk on power, police abuse is nothing new to South Africa.

During the lockdown, between 26 March and 17 April, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IDPID) reported a shocking 30% increase in complaints of police abuse from the same period in 2019.

The DA has done an analysis on the last 5 years of complaints of police abuse referred to IPID. This analysis has exposed a deeply entrenched culture of state sanctioned violence due a lack of accountability and consequence for police abuse and brutality.

Below is a list of the totals for the most prevalent complaints received by IPID:

2018/2019 2017/2018 2016/2017 2015/2016 2014/2015
Deaths in police custody 214 201 302 216 244
Deaths as a result of police action 393 436 394 366 396
Complaint of discharge of official firearm 770 677 1640 865 940
Rape by a police officer 124 105 112 112 124
Rape in police custody 13 9 20 23 34
Torture 270 217 173 145 145
Assault 3835 3661 3827 3509 3711

Totals:

2018/2019 2017/2018 2016/2017 2015/2016 2014/2015
Total complaints (inclusive of most prevalent ones) 5 829 5 651 7 014 5 519 5 879
Total: 29 892

Over the last 5 financial years IPID received a total of 29 892 complaints in terms of section 28 and 29 of the IPID Act.

Of these:

  • 27.7% were referred to the NPA for criminal recommendations
  • 25.8% constituted disciplinary recommendations made to SAPS
  • Only 3.9% lead to disciplinary convictions
  • Only 1.3% lead to criminal convictions

The DA has long held the view that there is an urgent need to demilitarize the South African Police Service (SAPS) and strengthen the independence and capacity of IPID.

This is why the DA wants the nomination process for an IPID Head to be independent from the Police Minister and why we have been fighting for the portfolio committee to draft a committee Bill to this effect.

The past week the Chairperson agreed to get legal advice and research on the matter, after which the committee will consider a committee Bill. We will continue to put pressure on the Chair to speed up this process before a new Head is appointed by the Minister.

The suffocating violence of the state must come to an end. President Ramaphosa must remove Minister Bheki Cele’s jackboot from the throats of the people.

DA calls for SAPS deployment to schools across the country following vandalism spike

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Department of Basic Education to work closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to ensure maximum  visibility of the police at our schools during the Covid-19 lockdown.

This follows the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, confirming that 397 schools have now been vandalised across the country since the lockdown. Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Western Cape and North West are the hardest hit with each having more than 50  schools affected. 

The DA strongly condemns these acts of vandalism.  

There is an urgent need to put preventative measures in place to protect schools from being soft targets for criminals. This is because opportunists and criminals are taking advantage of this lockdown and it is therefore critical that the we have increased police visibility at schools during this time.

The Minister confirmed that the damage at schools have primarily been caused by vandalism and theft. It is also telling that perpetrators have now started to target nutrition centres where food items are stored. It speaks to the increased desperation for food during this lockdown. 

These acts, however, will cause immeasurable damage to the functioning of schools and on the education of learners post the lockdown.  It is, therefore, critically important for Minister Motshekga to engage Police Minister Bheki Cele to find urgent solutions which will enable the SAPS to patrol high-risk schools. 

DA welcomes SAPS action on rape kits

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the announcement by the South African Police Service (SAPS) that a supplier for rape kits has finally been appointed after the previous tender was cancelled in 2017 due to alleged corruption.

The delays in awarding a tender resulted in critical shortages in rape kits across the country.

Last week the DA revealed that 76% of SA police stations did not have adult rape kits and 69% of stations do not have child rape kits in stock. The DA wrote to Police Minister Bheki Cele, to give him a deadline by which to ensure that all police stations had rape kits.

The shortage of rape kits has been a gross injustice to rape survivors. Without these kits, evidence in reported rape cases cannot be collected. Without evidence, the ability to successfully prosecute rapists diminishes drastically.

Because of alleged corruption between the supplier of the kits and some police officers, rapists went unpunished for the heinous crimes against women and children.

This issue has to do with the lives and dignity of the women and children of our country. The current figures indicate that SAPS has run short of over 128 000 rape kits, with only around 18 000 adult rape kits in circulation in SA.

No one deserves to become a victim of sexual violence and everything possible must be done to eradicate this evil from society. A fundamental part of holding perpetrators to account is gathering the necessary evidence to convict them of these crimes.

The DA will now closely monitor the distribution of these kits and ensure that SAPS’ logistics operation delivers rape kits to every station in the country

We will continue to fight that those who commit heinous crimes against the most vulnerable members and our society are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. This country cannot continue to be a danger zone for women and children.

 

Possible R6 billion budget cut for SAPS will cost lives

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply concerned that National Police Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, has received a request from National Treasury that the South African Police Service (SAPS) cut their budget by R6 billion.

If true, this would be disastrous for SAPS, which is already grossly under-funded, under-resourced, under-staffed and under-equipped. Any further budget cuts will only worsen these conditions, leaving citizens to pay with their lives.

We will write to National Treasury to request that they urgently provide clarity on the matter of potential budget cuts for SAPS.

The fiscus is in deep trouble due to rampant corruption and low growth, but the answer to these problems should not be to cut funding to a critical department like SAPS, especially at a time when our communities have become war zones.

Budget shortfalls should be addressed by cutting Ministerial extravagance. National Treasury should begin by cutting VIP spending instead. As it stands, South Africans pay R10 million to protect just one VIP. Moreover, each of the 28 Ministers is allocated almost R4 million per year for 3 new vehicles.

Given our current state of crime, the DA proposes that an additional R2 billion be allocated towards fighting crime by:

  • Increasing IPID’s budget by R200 million; and,
  • Increasing Visible Police budget by R1.8 billion.

This is a budget neutral proposal which can be achieved within the current budget by reducing the budget for VIP Security by R2 billion.

The DA will continue to push for government to get their priorities right, cut extravagant expenditure and focus on keeping South Africans safe. Without an honest and professional police service, which is well resourced and well-capacitated, our citizens will undoubtedly pay for this decision with their blood.

The cut in the SAPS budget will undermine all efforts to keep the people of South Africa safe. The proposed cut will hand South Africa over to criminals.

On 8 May let’s vote for a government that will lock up criminals, not send them into government

It is great to be in KwaDukuza, in the beautiful province of KwaZulu Natal. Every time I visit this province I am reminded of its vast potential and what it could become if it had a government that works for all its people.

This happens to be the fifth province I’ve visited over the past four days, and I can tell you this one truth: from the Free State to the North West, from Limpopo to KwaZulu Natal the message from our people is clear – we want change and we want it now! We have had enough of empty promises from a corrupt ANC that continues to fail us.

The ANC is finished and totally beyond repair. It is not a matter of if it loses power, but when, with its last kicks of a dying horse diminishing with every Election.

In just six days we go to the polls to elect a new government. In that voting booth next Wednesday, we are all faced with a choice. And that choice is between another 5 years of the ANC or change that builds One South Africa for All.

Democrats, that choice also faces every single person in this hall and every resident of Stanger. I know that crime is rampant in this community and goes unpunished. You are all forced to live in danger not knowing when the next burglary, high jacking or murder will take place. Surely, 25 years into democracy, our communities should be safe, secure places we can proudly call home.

Earlier this morning I visited a family in this community who were victims of a violent home invasion. In January, criminals broke into their home and attempted to steal their belongings. They called the police in KwaDukuza to come protect them, but the police never arrived on the crime scene. They are still waiting. The police never arrived, and still today, the police have not gone to the home and never investigated the crime.

Fellow democrats, what is the most heart-breaking part of this family’s ordeal is that the violent housebreaking caused their son to suffer a heart attack and he sadly passed away just two weeks after the incident.

I offer my deepest sympathy to the family and this community on their loss. A 38-year-old man lost his life because of crime – a death that could have been avoided if we had a police force that worked.

The reality is that under the ANC, crime goes unpunished, and this community knows that all too well. In Stanger, the conviction rate for murder, rape, robbery, hijacking and housebreaking is 1.4% That means that 98.6% of reported crimes go unsolved, and the accused continue to walk our streets. This cannot be, 25 years into our democracy.

You see, the example is set from the very top. The ANC’s attitude towards crime is clear – instead of locking criminals up, they’re sent to Parliament and into government positions.

President Ramaphosa’s too little too late apology to the nation yesterday over the ANC’s responsibility for stealing South Africa to the tune of over R1.2 trillion may be forgiven, but it will never be forgotten, and citizens must severely punish this ANC crime at the ballot boxes in 6 days. It is also a manipulative and dishonest slap in the face to the people of South Africa for the President to repent for the trillions stolen by the ANC while reappointing criminals onto compromised ANC lists ahead of this month’s new Parliament.

Fellow democrats, we have a choice before us on 8 May. We can complain, or we can bring change! For the people of Stanger, that choice is between a corrupt and inefficient police force under the ANC, or an honest and professional police force under the DA.

South Africa deserves a government that is prepared to do the hard work in turning SAPS into an honest, professional crime-fighting institution. The DA will recruit only the best and most passionate candidates. We will ensure our detectives and specialist officers are adequately trained, and we will build effective partnerships with communities who know where the criminals live. And we will tackle the scourge of gender-based violence by putting resources towards it.

South Africa deserves a government with a plan to reduce crime – a plan which acknowledges that policing decisions should be made at provincial and local level if they are to address issues unique to the region. A plan that calls for a Provincial Police Service that can work closely with Metro Police units, as is the case throughout the world.

That is why on 8 May, I need every single one of you to vote for the change that you deserve, and put your “X” next to the DA!

Let’s take back our communities and ensure the criminals are locked up, not sent to Parliament and into government.

Help us build a Police Service that can keep all South Africans safe

The following remarks were delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the Dobsonville Police Station in Soweto, Gauteng. Maimane was joined by DA Gauteng Premier Candidate, Solly Msimanga, and Team One SA Spokesperson on Crime, John Steenhuisen

Fellow South Africans,

We live in a country of insiders and outsiders – of those with access to opportunities and wealth, and those who find themselves locked out of the economy by bad policy and poor leadership.

We see the outsiders all around us – millions of people without jobs, millions of people surviving on tiny social grants, millions of people who struggle to make a life below the poverty line. They have been let down and forgotten by a government that became distracted by greed and lost all touch with the people.

You can see this greed in the stories that are reported in the news – scandals like Bosasa, the Guptas, VBS and Nkandla. But it is often the less obvious “legalised” theft of public money through outrageous perks and privileges that really show how out of touch they are.

Take safety and our protection by the South African Police Service. This year the total police budget is almost R100 billion, which has to cover the protection of around 58 million people in our country. But not every South African is considered equal by this ANC government. Not even close.

Nearly R3 billion of this SAPS budget is spent on fewer than 300 so-called VIPs, which works out to more than R10 million per person per year. Compare this with the amount spent on ordinary South Africans, which is just over R1600 per person per year, and you get a sense of the gap that exists between the political elite and the people they are meant to serve.

Nowhere is this gap more obvious than in the under-resourcing of SAPS stations in poor areas with high crime rates. This police station here in Dobsonville has a police-to-population ratio of 1:1121. This means there are well over a thousand residents for every police officer. Our Police Minister, Bheki Cele, admits that we should be striving for the UN’s recommended ratio of 1:220, but our national average is closer to twice this number.

But it is in the poorer areas of South Africa where the ANC government has truly failed to protect the people. There are many police stations where this police to population ratio has grown to four or five times the UN recommendation. Dobsonville is not alone. Parts of Diepsloot, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville are also severely under-resourced, as are many communities in Cape Town, such as Nyanga, Delft and Khayelitsha.

These areas grow and grow as people move to the city in search of opportunities, but the policing resources don’t grow along with them. That is why you have the situation here, and in many other places just like this, where people simply don’t believe that the police are able to help them and keep them safe.

Minister Cele says we are short around 62 000 police officers. But at the same time the ANC government spends R10 million per person per year of SAPS budget on VIP protection. Surely a caring government would look at this situation and say “No, this is wrong. Let us spend this money where it is needed.” But we don’t have a caring government. We have the ANC.

If you see convoys of black BMWs and Mercedes Benzes speeding through traffic with blue lights flashing, that is your government telling you that they will not be held to the same standard and the same budget as the rest of us. They did not join the ANC to live like ordinary South Africans. They joined the ANC to be treated like VIPs with money that was meant for the people.

Where the DA governs we have banned the use of blue light convoys for all our own public representatives, but we can’t control what the ANC government does. When you see one of these convoys speeding through a DA-run metro or province, it is always an ANC Minister rushing to the airport or to get home, or simply to go and get take-aways.

This has to end, fellow South Africans. We can’t allow this government to carry on living it up at the expense of ordinary South Africans who are under siege from criminals every single day.

Where the DA governs we have taken steps to correct this balance. I have given a directive to all DA governments to pro-actively seek ways in which to reduce all excess and reverse the VIP expenditure we inherited from the ANC.

We also adopted a Mayoral Handbook at our last Federal Council meeting in February which outlines the rules on finances and travel for DA public representatives, including car allowances. This is similar to the existing Western Cape handbook, which is a huge departure from the Ministerial handbook used by ANC Ministers to justify their flashy cars, first-class travel and protection services. When we take over as national government, ours will become the new Ministerial Handbook, and we will also slash the bloated cabinet to just 15 ministries.

Elected officials are servants of the public. And while the ANC might disagree and treat them like royalty at the cost of the taxpayer, you will find that all DA governments honour this principle.

But we need to take it even further. We need to do what Mayor Msimanga did in Tshwane when the DA took over there in 2016 and he discovered that the ANC had ordered 10 new BMWs, thinking that they were going to stay in office after the elections. Mayor Msimanga immediately gave those BMWs to the anti-hijacking unit of the Tshwane Metro Police. Our politicians don’t need the fast cars, but our police officers certainly do.

We need to put the needs of the people before the greed of the elite.

South Africa deserves a government that is prepared to do the hard work in turning SAPS into an honest, professional crime-fighting institution. This means recruiting only the best and most passionate candidates. It means training our detectives and specialist officers. It means building effective partnerships with communities. It means recognising the scourge of gender-based violence and putting resources towards tackling this issue.

South Africa deserves a government with a plan to reduce crime – a plan which acknowledges that policing decisions should be made at provincial and local level if they are to address issues unique to the region. A plan that calls for a Provincial Police Service that can work closely with Metro Police units, as is the case throughout the world.

South Africa deserves a government that gets things done, and doesn’t just talk about what it would one day like to do. While the ANC were talking about keeping communities safe, Mayor Mashaba went out and recruited an additional 1500 officers to the JMPD.

There is only one party that can be this government. There is only one party with both a proven track record where it governs, and a bold plan to keep South Africans safe in their homes and on their streets, and that party is the DA.

Fellow South Africans, we have no time to waste. Every day in South Africa, an average of 56 people are murdered. Every day 109 people report that they have been raped. Cash-in-transit heists now stand at almost one a day. Our nation is under constant attack from criminals, but the ANC government wouldn’t know it, because they are sitting pretty with their guards and their blue lights and their Bosasa-upgraded security systems.

That’s what you need to remember when you cast your vote next month. Do you want to vote for the safety of your own family, or do you want to vote for the VIP protection of some politician who doesn’t even know you exist?

I know what my answer is. So join me on 8 May as we vote to take back our streets and our neighbourhoods.

Join me as we build one safe, prosperous South Africa for all.

Choose a government that can keep you safe from criminals

The following remarks were made today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a public meeting in Kleinvlei, Cape Town. Maimane was joined by DA Western Cape Premier Candidate, Alan Winde, and Team One SA Spokesperson on Crime, John Steenhuisen, and Team One SA Spokesperson on Women, Nomafrench Mbombo.

Fellow South Africans,

I want to start off by strongly condemning the xenophobic attacks that are taking place in KZN and other parts of our country. Violence must have no place in our society. Not against fellow South Africans, and not against our brothers and sisters from other African nations.

Our stagnant economy has left many South Africans angry, fearful and frustrated, but innocent, law-abiding foreign nationals who play be our rules should never pay the price for bad government that is holding South Africa back.

It is always the innocent who suffer most. I know the price that communities like yours have had to pay because of gangs and drugs.

I know the heartbreak so many families have already had to endure at the hands of criminals who have taken over their neighbourhoods and terrorised their children. I know what the killings, the violence and the drug addiction does to mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. And I know it is so often the innocent who pay the price.

I have just spoken this morning to a family whose lives have been ripped apart by the senseless murder of their young son by gangsters here. He had nothing to do with their gang. He had no part in their life of violence and crime. And yet he was brutally murdered by them.

This is the worst nightmare for any mother or father – to learn that their child lost his life so young, and for nothing, at the hands of thugs who don’t follow rules or fear the law.

And something like this happens every single day in communities across the Western Cape. Last year 808 people lost their lives in this province to gang-related murders.

Cape Town and the Western Cape are under siege from gangs, and yet the ANC government just looks the other way. It simply does not care. National government controls all aspects of SAPS – all station resourcing, all appointments, all police officer allocation and all specialised units – but they have just washed their hands of the gang and drug violence in this province.

They sit up in Gauteng, miles from the lived reality of the people who are under daily attack here, and they make terrible decisions that have a profound effect on your lives.

The DA has been asking for years for a fair allocation of police officers to gang and drug-ridden communities in the province, but still the ANC government turns a blind eye and continues to under-resource these areas.

The DA has been asking for years for the reintroduction of the specialised narcotics and gang units, which the ANC themselves disbanded. Don’t be fooled by their recent announcement of new specialised units. No new police officers have been appointed. They simply pulled officers from somewhere else, leaving a hole there. This was done just for show, ahead of the May election.

This is simply not good enough. The people of the Western Cape should not be made to suffer at the hands of a national government that cannot and will not keep them safe.

I am here today to tell you: enough is enough. You shouldn’t have to put up with gangsters and drug dealers in your neighbourhood, in your streets and outside your schools.

You shouldn’t have to hide in your homes and pray that these thugs pass you by. You shouldn’t have to fear the bullets of their crossfire, or fear your children being recruited into their gangs or sold their drugs.

This is your community, not theirs. If anyone should be running and hiding, it is the gangsters.

Fellow South Africans, in communities such as this one, we all know that it is the women and the children and the most vulnerable in our society who are impacted most. And often, the communities know exactly who the criminals are, but they are too scared to come forward, because they don’t have a policing system that will work with them.

Communities need to be able to partner with the police effectively. This is the only way we can stop criminals. Together we can beat them. Together we can fight for your right to live safe and peaceful lives here in Kleinvlei, and in all communities across this province.

The Cape Town Metro Police partnered effectively with the community to bring down crime levels in the inner city by 90%. I say it again, we can only do this together. That’s why the DA believes passionately that we need to decentralise policing powers.

The DA will continue to fight for a Provincial Police Service, so that decisions that affect the safety of communities in this province can be made right here in the Western Cape

We will continue to fight for the introduction of proper, well-resourced specialised narcotics and gang units here in the Western Cape, and not just pre-election window dressing.

We will continue to fight for a fair allocation of officers and other resources to the police stations in these gang-ridden areas.

But the biggest difference we can make is in national government. Because that is where we will be able to shape the policy to make every community in South Africa safe from criminals.

We know that SAPS is currently severely under-trained, under-staffed, under-resourced and under-equipped. Our plan will address all of these critical issues. A DA national government will completely transform SAPS into an honest and professional service, staffed only by those committed to serve and protect.

We will appoint only the best, fit-for-purpose people to positions of leadership. The days of deployed cadres in SAPS whose only loyalty is to the ANC will be gone for good.

We will actively recruit police officers with a passion for policing, and we will ensure that all new recruits undergo extensive training. Where necessary, we will retrain officers and we will increase the number of specialist officers and detectives.

Provinces with a proven capability will be allowed to take on the responsibility of managing policing in that province.

We will immediately slash the budget for VIP protection services, and shift this money to the protection of people like you in communities such as this.

We will institute a semi-independent drug-busting force within SAPS which can target gangs and drug-related crimes, and we will create specialised units aimed specifically at things like rural safety, sexual offenses, organised crime and missing persons.

A DA government will ensure that law and order is maintained in our communities, and we will do so by seeing to it that effective arrests are followed by effective prosecutions and convictions.

This is the safe and peaceful South Africa that I want to build. And to do so, I am going to need your help.

Together we need to fire the government that has abandoned you and left you at the mercy of gangsters. In its place we need to install a government with both the will and the plan to keep you safe in your homes, and to keep gangsters in jail, where they belong.

We can’t have parents burying their sons and daughters. We can’t have young children, not even teenagers yet, lured to the life of a gangster. We can’t have deadly drugs flooding our streets and our schools. That is not the South Africa of our dreams.

Let us stand up as one and say: No more! These street belong to the people of this community, and not the criminals. If the ANC government can’t keep you safe, you need to vote for a government that will.

In next month’s elections you can either choose five more years under this failed ANC government, or you can choose a South Africa under a DA-led government where your children have a future, and where you can reclaim your streets from the gangsters and drug dealers.

Join me on 8 May as we choose to build one safe and prosperous South Africa for all.

DA calls for special joint Parliamentary sitting with SAPS and IEC ahead of 2019 General Elections

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has requested the House Chairperson Cedric Frolick to schedule a special joint sitting of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs to which the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) reports, and the Portfolio Committee on Police to discuss operational readiness ahead of the 2019 general elections.

While we note that the South African Police Service (SAPS) is already set to brief Parliament on election day readiness, the IEC should also join this briefing as the elections is a joint competency between the two agencies.

The DA has requested that this critical session is scheduled before the Fifth Parliament rises as we are of the view that the operational details of the IEC and the SAPS for this crucial election day have not been properly or fully tabled before or interrogated by Parliament.

Our Constitutional Democracy relies on an absolutely watertight operation from the IEC, and it is therefore critical that previous incidents of irregularities, misconduct and wrongdoing on the part of the IEC be interrogated fully by Parliament.

In January this year the DA tabled written questions to the Minister of Home Affairs on critical areas of IEC failures during the 2016 elections, and the Minster’s replies at best obfuscated and at worst ignored the questions asked. This indicates that the Minister of Home Affairs, on behalf of the IEC, does not intend to properly account to Parliament.

The most concerning aspects of the IEC operations on Election Day include:

  1. Ballot papers frequently run out at the same voting stations,
  2. Certain Presiding Officers displaying clear bias,
  3. Electoral violence affecting voting stations not being pursued to criminal conviction,
  4. Zip-Zip machines failing for hours on end at certain voting stations, and
  5. The slow rate of VEC10 forms being submitted because of cumbersome identification requirements for South Africans living abroad

The SAPS must equally answer to Parliament on their preparations for the campaigning period and election day, including:

  1. Their plans to prevent violence and intimidation during the party campaigning period,
  2. Their plans to overcome violent protests that threaten the voting process in certain areas, and
  3. Their operational plans for election day to secure voting stations and prevent any electoral misconduct.

These are fundamental questions underscoring our constitutional democracy.

The IEC and SAPS must account to Parliament on their operations, in order to ensure the public and political parties that they are intent on delivering on their constitutional mandate of a free and fair election.

Failing ANC spends R9.1 million on one VIP but fails to keep rural communities safe

Today, the DA Team One South Africa Spokesperson on Crime, John Steenhuisen, together with the Leader of the DA in the Free State Legislature, Dr Roy Jankielsohn met with victims of crime and community members in Reitz Park Matjhabeng as well as with a farming community in Henenman, Free State to engage on the prevalence of violence and crime in their rural communities.

  

Left: John Steenhuisen addressing victims of crime and community members outside the house in Reitz Park Matjhabeng where a young man was shot in the house two week ago; Right: John Steenhuisen addressing a farming community in Henenman on issues of rural safety and land expropriation without compensation.

Please find attached an English and Afrikaans soundbite by the DA Team One South Africa Spokesperson on Crime, John Steenhuisen.

Community members expressed their concerns on the lack of policing and security on farms, that their concerns have fallen on deaf ears and that they feel forgotten by the ANC government.

Farmers and farm workers live in constant fear every day as they have become targets of heinous acts of violence and crime.

“The DA has always maintained that the South African Police Services (SAPS) reintroduce specialised rural safety units to deal with instances of crime and violence in farming communities,” said Steenhuisen.

He said that, “the failing ANC government continues to drag its feet when it comes to the protection of vulnerable rural communities such as Henenman in the Free State. These communities have become paralysed by fear and has been left to bear the brunt of the ANC’s carelessness.”

“The ANC government spends R9.1 million to protect one VIP but can’t even dispatch lifesaving rural safety units to farming communities,” said Steenhuisen.

The DA is the only party with a plan to make rural communities safer.

“The DA wants to build One South Africa for all. We want to fix the police service and make them honest and professional to ensure that they combat all crimes effectively,” Steenhuisen said.

The DA will for the coming months embark on a rural safety tour where we will engage with farming communities across South Africa about the safety challenges and concerns that they face every day.

Our duty is to perform oversight over SAPS. We will not be prevented from doing so.

The following remarks were delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the KwaZulu Natal provincial launch of the party’s team One SA campaign outside the SAPS Provincial Headquarters in eThekwini. Maimane was joined by DA KwaZulu Natal Premier Candidate, Zwakele Mncwango.

Fellow South Africans,

Today marks the start of the DA’s provincial election campaign here in KZN. Over the coming months, under the leadership of our Provincial Leader and Premier candidate, Zwakele Mncwango, we will take our message of “Change that builds one South Africa for all” to every town and village in this province.

Our campaign is about sharing our message with voters, but it’s also about listening to them. Whenever I speak to people about what concerns them most, the same two issues always appear at the very top of the list: Jobs and crime. No matter where we are and who we’re speaking to, people are most worried about finding employment and about being safe in their own community.

If we can’t find a way to address these two critical issues, then we have no chance at turning our country around and securing a better tomorrow. And it is this second issue – crime and safety – that I want to speak about today.

Across South Africa, communities are under attack every day from criminals who not only have no respect for the law, but also have no more fear of law enforcement. They do just as they please, leaving innocent citizens terrorized and traumatized in their homes, their streets, their schools and their work places.

Criminals have become brazen because they know our Police Service is so under-resourced, under-funded and under-trained that there is very little chance of them being caught. That’s why poor communities have become gang lands. That’s why drug dealers target young children outside their schools. That’s why we have the highest rape statistics in the world, and a murder rate that puts us on par with a country at war.

I will not accept that this is the way it should be, and neither will my colleagues. It is not only our duty as citizens, but our sworn duty as Members of Parliament and Members of Provincial Legislatures to perform oversight over SAPS – not to wave a finger at them, but to help identify where they are falling short and how this can be rectified.

That is our Constitutional duty, and it is very clearly set out in a Parliamentary document called the Oversight and Accountability Model. But here in KZN we are being prevented from doing our work. The Acting Provincial Police Commissioner has decided to instruct all police clusters and station commanders not to cooperate with MPs and MPLs who arrive to conduct oversight visits.

Lieutenant General Mkhwanazi sent out a memo telling all cluster commanders not to share any information with any public representatives, and particularly DA reps. There were occasions where he sent SMSs to station commanders when he knew MPs or MPLs were on their way there, telling them not to cooperate in the oversight visit. Fearing for their jobs, these commanders have no choice but to obey him.

We even heard of a police officer who is now facing disciplinary action for cooperating with MPs during an oversight visit. This is simply unacceptable. Any SAPS member who finds him or herself victimized or intimidated for allowing public representatives to perform their Constitutional duty can count on the support of the DA.

General Mkhwanazi is wrong. He is legally wrong, Constitutionally wrong and morally wrong. Whether he has issued this directive by himself, or whether he is acting on the instruction of someone else, it will not stand. The DA – and any other party – has both a right and an obligation to perform oversight. This oversight can be either pre-announced or unannounced. And I assure you, we will continue to perform our duty, whether General Mkhwanazi likes it or not.

We have been doing so for decades, and the effect of this oversight has always been an improvement of the conditions, the equipment or the morale at the stations in question. Oversight is not a finger-pointing exercise. It is a thorough assessment of where the gaps exist and what can be done to fill them.

Our reps have always had extremely constructive engagements with station commanders. The Station Monitoring Tool – a document drawn up by the Police Sub-committee in Parliament – is able to compile a detailed picture of a station’s weaknesses and shortcomings. One hour with a station commander using this tool is often worth weeks of work far away in a committee meeting.

We will not allow petty politics and ego to get in the way of the important work our public reps do. This is not about point scoring. This is about trying to keep people safe by ensuring that their local police are able to respond to crime and apprehend criminals.

We know how important this issue is to millions of South Africans, which is why it is one of the DA’s key focus points as we head into next year’s elections. We made a pledge to the people of SA that we will overhaul SAPS and turn it into an honest, professional organisation that is able to protect and serve all the communities in our country.

As we launch our KZN provincial election campaign today here in Durban, I would like to reiterate this pledge. The DA will not rest until people feel safe in their homes, and criminals feel unsafe.

Our election campaign message is about change that builds one SA for all, but we cannot build a prosperous, united and inclusive South Africa if we are being held hostage in our own communities by thugs. That’s why a DA government will turn the tables on criminals by transforming SAPS into a well-staffed, well-trained and well-resourced crime fighting machine.

We will root out corruption in the Police Service, we will re-train existing officers to ensure that they can serve and protect the public with pride, we will only hire people who display a true passion for policing, we will establish a world-class drug-busting force within SAPS and we will ensure that effective arrests are followed by effective prosecution and conviction of criminals.

That is the DA’s pledge to the people of South Africa, and the people of KZN. And so I urge you to join us in this fight to take back our streets from criminals by lending us your support and your vote next year.

If we then should disappoint you, then take your vote back. But first give us a chance to prove to you what we can do. Together we can build one South Africa that works for all and in which everyone is safe from crime.

Thank you.