The following speech was delivered today by DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, during the debate on 16 Days of Activism For No Violence Against Women And Children in the National Assembly.
South Africa’s government has failed its children.
As we speak:
- There are 11.9 million beneficiaries of child social grants;
- Over 11 million children live in poverty on less than 923 per month;
- 136 children died every month of complications arising from acute severe malnutrition in the last three years;
- 8 million infants and adolescents still do not have access to the Child Support Grant;
- One in three children are victims of sexual and physical abuse before they reach the age of 18; and
- In KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, only 19% of child abuse cases were reported to police by social services.
Honourable speaker, it is quite clear that the government, through the failures of the Department of Social Development, is playing a key role in allowing the abuse of children to persist.
What the country is not aware of, is that the Department of Social Development and SASSA, led by their ‘Dodging’ Minister, are once again placing thousands of lives at risk, as our foster care system edges towards collapse.
Currently a High Court order, which dates back to a ruling in 2011 which allowed SASSA to pay foster care grants to beneficiaries when foster care placements lapse, will expire at the end of this year.
The court order, which was again extended in 2014, was meant to be a temporary arrangement that would allow SASSA enough time to fix the backlog clogging the foster care system. The Minister was meant to implement ‘comprehensive legal reform’ that would ease the process of reviewing foster care placement orders.
Yet, six years later, the backlog remains and there is still no finalised “comprehensive legal reform” as the court requested.
What there is, however, is growing uncertainty over what this may mean for the payout of the foster care grants.
The result is that more than 30 000 children under foster care are at risk of not receiving their grants come January 2018.
Once again, Honourable Speaker, it’s another day at SASSA, and it’s another grants crisis, proudly brought to you by Minister Dlamini.
This is the same Minister, who, while tasked with delivering grants to the 17 million of our poorest citizens, dodges accountability at every possible turn.
And while Dodging Dlamini escapes accountability in Parliament, she criss-crosses the country campaigning for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Instead of attending to the multiple crises her Department is facing.
It is the ANC that allows Dodging Dlamini to display her utter disdain for the 17 million South Africans who rely on social grants. The ANC government only acknowledges a crisis when it is before the Courts, or, as we have seen with Life Esidimeni, when people die.
Those patients, like children and poor households, are the most vulnerable citizens, and it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that their constitutional rights are protected.
But what we have observed as a country, is that the rights of these citizens have been relegated to the periphery, while the ANC continues to self-destruct – dragging the country along with it.
Women and children bear the brunt of the scourge of poverty and inequality, and this makes them even more susceptible to abuse. Social Development should be at the forefront of the battle against women and child abuse, but the department has been rendered ineffective because the Minister fires any competent officials, whilst retaining those who are willing to do her bidding.
If the Department is to ever function in an efficient way, one in which R1.4 billion of taxpayers’ money will not be irregularly spent, it must be rid of those who are hell-bent on serving their own narrow interests at the expense of the poor.
As the Democratic Alliance, we are working flat out to ensure that the poor and most vulnerable in our society are given the opportunities they need to achieve a better life when we take over government in 2019.
It was revealed in Parliament today that over the past six months, almost 7 500 more women and children were victims of crime, compared to the same time last year.
This came to light in the Second Quarterly Performance Report that was presented by the South African Police Service (SAPS) to the Police Portfolio Committee.
This is the deeply tragic human cost of an ineffective SAPS.
The report showed that crimes against women increased by 12.1% between April and June and 2.9% between July and September, compared to the same time last year. This means that in the first six months since Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, was appointed, 5 500 more women were victims of crime, compared to the same period last year.
The report also showed that crimes against children went up by 14.5% between April and June and 7.5% between July and September, compared to the same time last year.
This means that 1 900 more children were victims of crime, compared to the same period last year. Put simply, every day 10 more children were victims of crime between April and September this year, than the same time last year.
However, the same report shows that VIPs were provided with 100% protection, that no incidences of crime against these elite were recorded while they were under SAPS protection.
While these VIPs were protected, over 100 000 ordinary women and children did not receive the same level of service.
It is unacceptable that those entrusted with our safety and security seem to be so efficient at protecting the elite but fail so miserably at protecting the country’s most vulnerable.
Mbalula is responsible for providing our women and children with the same kind of protection that he and his friends in the ANC themselves enjoy.
On Tuesday, 31 October, Parliament will debate the scourge of crime and murder in South Africa, as requested by the DA.
The recent crime statistics have shown that all South Africans, irrespective of race or background, can become a target of violent crime. Every South African knows the feeling of fearing for their life and the lives of their loved ones.
Women and children are the most vulnerable, they are often the targets of horrific rapes and a shocking seven women and children are murdered every day.
In townships across South Africa crime has reached crisis levels as murder, rape and brutal attacks have become the order of the day.
Rural communities are also under siege. Farmers, farmworkers, and other rural residents live in constant fear, as numbers of people in rural communities being brutally murdered increase year on year.
Violent crime is not targeted at one specific group or groups. The 52 murders and 109 rapes that occur every day are crippling communities across the racial and socio-economic spectrum.
The scourge of violence in South Africa is a damning indictment on the ANC government.
Violent crime in South Africa has reached crisis point and sadly the South African Police Services (SAPS) seems to be losing the fight.
The time has come for Minister Fikile Mbalula to urgently reinstate the specialised units, which were successful at targeting specific crimes such as rural safety units, anti-drug and gang units. These were disabled with no effective alternative to replace them.
Enough is enough. We need to take our country back from the criminals that are crippling our society with fear.
No life has more value than another. Every life lost in these tragic crimes, is one life too many.
As the DA we are committed to seeing violent crime being rooted out of our communities. We stand with women, children, people in townships, rural communities and every South African who has been targeted by crime.
The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, during the debate on violence against women and children.
This debate is important because women and children in our country deserve to live in safe homes and to be able to walk in safe streets. This debate is important because gender-based violence and domestic abuse is a violation of rights and it is a failure of the ANC government to protect women and children.
This debate is important, particularly to me, because this scourge in our society is one that I take personally. My own mother’s passing six and a half years ago in a brutal murder means that I have directly and deeply felt the trauma that the evil of this femicide epidemic wreaks on our nation.
On Saturday 20 May, I attended the #NotInMyName March in Pretoria along with DA Shadow Minister of Justice, Glynnis Breytenbach. The march was an important expression of outrage from men to other men about the unacceptable violence that is perpetrated against women and children on a daily basis.
It is high time that combating gender-based violence shifted from simply lamenting and condemning it, to men playing the key role of calling each other out and holding each other accountable for sexist, misogynistic and otherwise generally patriarchal attitudes that enable violence against women.
We must seek to deter this scourge in two ways: firstly, through a more effective criminal justice system that won’t let perpetrators get away with it and secondly, also through building new social norms of gender equality and stigmatising violence against women and children as well as the men who commit it.
Two departments in this ANC government exist to do exactly these things, so why are they failing to do so?
The change we need means having Ministers who do not blame the victims of gender violence for their own death. The change we need means having Ministers who do not reduce abusive relationships to flippant advice to women that leaving a man the first time he hits you will solve the problem.
If we are to challenging centuries, if not millennia, of deeply entrenched social codes and conventions we need leaders in government who themselves are committed to this change.
It means taking on and challenging the manner in which these social codes and conventions are transmitted intergenerationally and how they are internally conditioned in our psyches and worldviews. It means facing up to the ways in which patriarchal ideas are held and reinforced by both men and women.
It also means confronting all dimensions of how these ideas and attitudes manifest, including as hate crimes against lesbian women and transgender people. Activism against violence directed at women and dismantling patriarchy is also a fight against homophobia and transphobia.
The scourge of violence is made worse by ineffective policing and police indifference to many cases and victims.
In this debate, we need the Police Minister, the Justice Minister and the Minister of Women in the Presidency to account for the failures of organs of state that are meant to play a key role to keep safe the most vulnerable in our society. Ministers Mbalula, Masutha and Shabangu must, here and today, tell the nation their government’s plan to make our country safe for all women.
South Africa needs an emergency plan on women’s safety. We do not need more empty promises.
They need to start with capacitating the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Units in the South African Police Service (SAPS). These units on average remain under-staffed and under-resourced and there simply are not enough of them.
Today police have one hand tied behind their back when trying to combat violence against women because the officers themselves are stretched too thin. We need swift, quality investigations, that secure high conviction rates, and we need a plan from Minister Mbalula to ensure this.
While the police cannot by themselves prevent domestic violence or rape, they can and they must take each case seriously. This means a new level of training, on gender and sexual crimes must be implemented, and we await to hear Minister Mbalula’s plan on this.
However, effective policing cannot be realised while many stations do not have victim-friendly rooms and rape test kits. Effective policing can also not be realised when, as often happens in much of the country, there aren’t enough vehicles to undertake visible patrols or respond to emergency call-outs.
Sex trafficking syndicates who prey on vulnerable girls and women in this country will not be tackled and defeated without an effective Crime Intelligence division. Unless we boost our Detective Services, those who commit violence against women and children will know that they can do so with impunity and little to no chance of getting caught and facing the consequences of their crimes.
South Africa demands that justice is served for every victim and that every perpetrator can be made an example of. This is the responsibility of Minister Masutha, from whom we expect a clear direction on improving prosecutions for sexual violence. Our courts must also be ready to better manage protection orders, and more quickly dispense them – for this Minister Masutha must answer to this House.
The last 23 years of ANC governance have shown that the ANC is incapable of making our country safe for all women.
That is why the time for change is ripe. That change will come through a new government led by the DA from 2019, when we will demonstrate our resolve to bring safe streets and safe homes to all communities, where everyone, especially women and children, can live with true freedom.