Theft of R24.3 million worth of livestock cripples farmers


Reported incidents of stock theft in Gauteng have steadily increased over the past three years, with 26 555 animals stolen, 2807 incidents reported, R24.3 million worth of livestock stolen and only 61 convictions to date.

This equates to 8124 cattle, 9282 sheep, 822 pigs, 8115 goats and 212 horses/donkeys that have been stolen in various farming communities across the province, amounting to 26 555 animals in total.

This was revealed in a response to my question on stock theft and convictions by Gauteng Community Safety MEC, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane and the Gauteng Office of the Provincial SAPS Commissioner.

However, these figures only represent reported cases, making the true losses much higher and the involvement of sophisticated stock-theft syndicates probable.

The majority of the species of animals stolen have increased in percentage year on year. 40.1% more Sheep have been stolen in the 2016/17 financial year (FY) than in the 2015/16 FY.

The number of cattle thefts rose from 2699 in 2014/15 to 3083 thefts in the 2016/17 FY, an increase of 14.2%.
In the 2014/15 FY 155 Pigs (R310 000) were stolen, this figure more than doubled in the 2016/17 FY to 339 Pigs totalling an unbelievable R6.5 million worth of swine stock.

It is disheartening that a mere 61 criminals have been successfully convicted out of 534 suspects arrested over the same period.

Those convicted have faced varying charges and received prison time from as little as 1 month imprisonment or an R800 fine up to 10 to 15 years imprisonment and an R8000 fine.

The DA has long held that proactive steps can and must be taken to allow our farmers to farm profitably and create economic opportunities within communities:

• SAPS must declare rural crime a priority, and keep separate and accurate statistics so that the success or failure of interventions can be measured;
• Reinstate organised and suitably trained SAPS Rural Safety Units;
• The reservist programme in farm areas must be properly implemented with concerted effort to recruit and train farmers, farm workers and farm dwellers; and
• Increased access to health, social support, and education must be ensured for farmworkers and dwellers. This is a fundamental human rights issue and farmers must be treated equally in this regard.

Farmers and the community are working together to keep their farms safe and now placing themselves at risk to help one another.

Click here to view the reply.

Gauteng ANC has no bite

The participation of the Gauteng ANC in today’s COSATU-led march against state capture is a farce that seeks only to score political points and has nothing to do with resolving the unrelenting looting of state coffers.

If the ANC in Gauteng truly had the gusto to condemn state capture outright, it would call for the resignation of President Jacob Zuma who has been found to be wanting by the highest court in the land.

His close links to the Gupta family, and the scandals around kick-backs to his family and friends, places him at the epicenter of this nefarious web.

While the leadership of the ANC in Gauteng have not yet placed their cards on the table about who they will back in December’s elective conference, there is clear indication already that with or without President Zuma, the status quo is set to remain. The ANC cannot and will not self-correct.

Come 2019, residents of Gauteng and citizens across South Africa will have the opportunity to take action against those who have abused the freedoms that so many suffered to achieve. They will vote for the DA.

In 2019, the Gauteng ANC will be remembered for being on the wrong side of history.

5 year wait for a hip operation at Bara Hospital


11 736 patients are waiting for operations at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, and the longest waiting time is five years for a hip operation.

This information was disclosed yesterday by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in an oral reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

She also said that 1824 operations had been cancelled for various reasons at the hospital last year.

I am astounded that so many patients are waiting for operations at this hospital.

The number has increased dramatically in the last two years as 4846 patients were waiting for surgery at the hospital in 2015 according to a previous reply to my questions in the Legislature.

Part of the problem is the high number of cancelled operations due to machinery breakdowns and staff shortages.

The surgery backlog should never have been allowed to grow so high at this hospital.

Patients suffer when they have to wait so long for surgery. It is inhuman to ask people to wait five years for a hip operation.

Special measures should be introduced to cut the surgery waiting lists, including extended operating hours and a partnership with the private health sector.

DA debates Motion on the State of Financial Governance in Gauteng

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC on Finance, Adriana Randall MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Graham Gersbach MPL, during a debate on the state of financial governance within the Gauteng Provincial Government.

Adriana Randall MPL

“Gauteng’s financial state: critical but stable”

• In an economic slump with tight public finances, government needs new ways of responding to local realities. It should orchestrate efforts throughout society which actively support people’s struggles to get ahead, not just enable them to get by;
• Provincial departmental budgets need to be fully aligned with the economic recovery and growth plan which has the strategic objectives of restoring growth, building a globally competitive economy and investing in the people of Gauteng;
• A DA government will remove the classic barriers for business formation and growth – namely access to funding, restrictive labour laws and red- tape. This is one of the most effective vehicles to stimulate economic growth and to create jobs.
• The key to achieving successful procurement reform is to embrace technological advancements which streamline processes and are based on the principles of control, transparency and auditability.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Graham Gersbach MPL

“Audit reports expose Gauteng’s unsavoury financial practices”

• Funding on the Gauteng Urban Renewal Programme was found to be used for projects not fully aligned to business plans, by the Auditor General of South Africa;
• Integrated Transport Planning across Gauteng is way behind schedule with Ekurhuleni’s metro bus still not truly operational; and
• In human settlements, hostel conversions and the delivery of dignified housing has been sluggish. Stands are sold illegally, corruption plagues housing lists in the province and the budgets including conditional grant funding are underspent by the department and sent back to treasury.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA Gauteng debates Motion on Investment in Public Transport


The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Transport, Dr Neil Campbell MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Social Development, Justus de Goede MPL, during a debate on Gauteng’s public transport investment.

Dr Neil Campbell MPL

“ANC motion far removed from the reality of commuters”

• The current bus subsidy programme is a disaster, with commuters and bus companies both unhappy. Busses are old, unreliable, and unpunctual, and routes are often not serviced;
• The Gautrain is unaffordable to most commuters, it has cost far more than was originally calculated and continues to drain the provincial treasury via subsidies;
• The freight–hubs which were to serve Gauteng are currently only draining the economy; and
• Gauteng’s Driver Licence Testing Centres are inefficient and plagued with many corrupt officials. Many road users’ service delivery complaints have gone unheard.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Justus de Goede MPL

“Public transport in Gauteng requires thorough planning and coordination to be a success”

• A lack of coordination in public transport planning between the different spheres of government in the province is crippling growth and development in the sector;
• Public-private partnerships must be sought in order to ensure the sustainability of public transport in the province;
• The creation of the Gauteng Transport Authority, which aimed to streamline uncoordinated institutional structures, was announced two years ago, but there has been virtual silence since due to the lack of political will; and
• Two recent surveys paint a very bleak picture of public perceptions of the transport system and found that commuters are actually leaving the public transport network, and have lost confidence in it.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA Gauteng debates Motion on Broadband Strategy

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Finance, Ashor Sarupen MPL and DA Gauteng Chief Whip, Mike Moriarty MPL, during a debate on Gauteng’s Broadband Network strategy.

Ashor Sarupen MPL

“Expanding broadband connectivity will see Gauteng’s economy grow”

• An increase of 10% in broadband penetration has the potential to increase GDP per capita growth by 0.9-1.5%;
• Benefits from leveraging broadband include growing the knowledge and information economy, stimulating the ICT economy and bridging the digital divide;
• The current plans for connectivity and access, as well as the current roll out of planned services, does not come near to fulfilling the potential that broadband has to offer the province;
• Other promised projects by the ANC in Gauteng, including telemedicine, e-government and e-health, have barely gotten off the ground, and apart from electronic school enrolment, we have not seen any significant pilot projects, let alone far-reaching, game changing projects that the provincial government should be delivering.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Mike Moriarty MPL

“ANC Gauteng lagging behind on broadband roll-out”

• The Gauteng Broadband Network (GBN) and the underlying strategy should be evaluated against a meaningful standard;
• The provincial government should partner with others; state departments and the private sector;
• In 2016 the DA-run Western Cape had already connected over 1022 sites through its broadband project;
• Moreover, the Western Cape’s broadband infrastructure now provides the foundation for other ICT-based initiatives such as the e-Learning portal, and other ICT connectivity in their schools;

The full speech can be obtained here.

Gauteng Health Budget Crisis – another Esidimeni?

The following was delivered in the form of a Member Statement in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature:

I wish to express concern about the financial mismanagement and budget crisis in the Gauteng Department of Health.

Alarm bells should be ringing when the Sheriff of the Court has to remove furniture from the Gauteng Health Head Office to force payment for medical negligence, but the Department still does not pay.

The telephone lines are cut at head office and at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital, but the Department still does not pay.

Vital equipment at hospitals is not repaired because suppliers are not paid.

Increasingly, companies do not want to do business with the Department because they are not paid in reasonable time, which is supposed to be 30 days.

And now the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital is struggling because agency nurses have been withdrawn because of non-payment.

I shudder to think what is next.

Urgent intervention is needed to fix the finances of this Department, otherwise we will face another Esidimeni, with increasing avoidable deaths because of deteriorating health services.

You have been warned. Please do something about it.

Department allows SADTU meetings during teaching time

The Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, has stated that the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) is permitted to hold meetings during teaching time, as long as permission is sought.

The MEC states in a reply to Democratic Alliance (DA) written question that “The Department only gives permission to Union members to attend a meeting when a formal request to hold the meeting is submitted.” While the MEC states that this is in line with Chapter G of the Personnel Administrative Measures (PAM), the MEC should have to the foresight to realise the damaging effects disrupted teaching has on learners and their futures. The PAM should therefore be amended in order to put learners first.

On a recent oversight campaign to schools across Gauteng, I was alarmed to see learners meandering the streets from as early as 10h30, and upon further inquiry it was revealed that the learners had been released from school in order to accommodate a SADTU meeting. This is despite the MEC stating that meetings “are generally called after 13h00”.

This is not true as I am often called by parents who complain about SADTU meetings taking place earlier in the day.

SADTU’s disregard for teaching standards and the need for quality education, gives reinforcement to the DA’s call for the introduction of a National Education Inspectorate, to ensure that teachers and principals are supported and held accountable for the performance of their learners.

MEC Lesufi is continuously painted as ‘Mr Fix-It’ but this is only due to his ability to react to Twitter’s trending topics, not his work of fixing Gauteng’s broken schools. In the coming weeks, I will release the results of the DA Schools Oversight campaign, and tell the people of Gauteng about the true state of schooling in the province, not the sanitised version that has been presented by MEC Lesufi.

It is unacceptable that the disruption of the teaching day would be sanctioned by those entrusted with ensuring that leaners and quality education come first.

Anybody who undermines the right to education is an enemy of the youth and the project of building a better South Africa. The DA will always work towards ensuring that the right to education is upheld and protected.

Rahima Moosa Hospital struggles without agency nurses

The Rahima Moosa Maternity Hospital in west Johannesburg is struggling as nurses have been withdrawn by a nursing agency that has not been paid.

This is yet another ill-effect of the Gauteng Health Department’s financial mismanagement.

Last week was grueling for staff trying to cope without the agency nurses in an extremely busy hospital which delivers about 14 000 babies a year.

There are two emergency operating theatres but only one is being used because of the nursing shortage.

This could put lives at risk if there is a surge in the need for emergency caesarean operations.

The financial woes of the Department has led to telephone cuts, machines not repaired and now a hospital trying to ensure safe births without enough nurses.

We need to know urgently what is being done to rectify the finances of the department so that it can pay all its suppliers on time.

Evaton North library finally opens after DA pressure

Four months ago, Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) MEC, Faith Mazibuko succumbed to the DA’s pressure in responding to questions in the Legislature on the failure to open the long-awaited Evaton North library and blamed Emfuleni Local Municipality for the delay.

Now, however, after contractors completed the construction of the library at a cost of over R12 million, the library will finally welcome its first guests today, apparently boasting state of the art equipment.

The community of Evaton North desperately awaited this moment for over two years.

The DA believes that libraries play an integral part in building a strong skilled, knowledgeable, employable and active citizenry in the province and thus we are planning to embark on a library campaign from the 2nd to the 6th of October to ensure that communities have the much-needed access to well-staffed and well-resourced libraries.