Department of Community Safety not doing enough to curb crime in Gauteng

By Michele Clarke MPL, DA Spokesperson for Community Safety

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered during the 2018/2019 Budget Vote for the Department of Community Safety

Madam Speaker,

Can we honestly say that the Gauteng Provincial Community Safety Department has played a critical role in reducing crime and keeping our roads safe in our Province?  When analysing our budget, the answer is no. Why do I say this?  We are a province marred by daily horrific criminal incidents and carnage on our roads, statistics reflect increases year on year and this Government, in this province, is not able to proactively address the situation.

The community in Gauteng is forever fearful and we do not live in an environment in which communities can reach their full potential as they do not feel safe and do not have any confidence in the current law enforcement agencies.

The Community Safety department’s budget fails to address its core function and mandate within the Civilian Secretariat Programme; this programme’s function is to exercise oversight over law enforcement agencies and to ensure the safety of the citizens of this province, although, for the first time in the past five years the department has managed to spend its budget but only managed to reach 79% of its targets.

This is clearly a department that cannot plan properly in terms of its KPIs and fiscal management.  The non-financial performance of the department must align with the budget and safety strategy of the province; but, once again, year on year, this is not the case and the department will fail to meet it objectives.  The inability to implement a coordinated approach between law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system, highlighting the fact that the criminal justice coordinating committee established by the department of community safety bears no outcomes in terms of its functionality.

Cash-in-transit heists is just one of the crimes that has had a massive negative effect on the province.  159 heists have occurred in the past six months, increasing ‘crimes linked to explosives’ use by 300%.  Research has shown that the perpetrators are dangerous and violent criminals linked to the top structures of police, magistrates, prosecutors and metro police.  They are highly sophisticated in terms of planning, driving skills and the ability to handle firearms.  They can secure high powered ammunition and explosives through corrupted law enforcement agents.

Madam Speaker,

Programme three:  Traffic management only managed to reach a 92% expenditure level. Important operational targets in terms of drunken driving, reckless and negligent driving and pedestrian operations – which are three key components that are linked to fatal road statistics, were not met.   The Gauteng Traffic Department is under-resourced and underutilized and as such, cannot win the fight against poor driver behaviour, moving violations and clamping down on illegal drivers.  The current situation is concerning as the Gauteng Traffic Department will never realize its 50% reduction as set down in its own targets.

The extent of corruption in the police service is out of control; the impunity that allows it to flourish is due to a Government that simply does not have the political will or ability to make the difference that is needed. The appropriate sanctioning of perpetrators is required if this conduct is to be deterred.  The establishment of an independent mechanism for reporting corruption within the SAPS, including reports from civil society organizations, is urgently needed.  We need more transparent processes in the appointment of key police officials as laid out in the NDP including performance indicators for improving integrity and ethic compliances within SAPS.  It is critical that we establish a Community Safety Ombudsman, as such an Ombudsman has played a critical role within the Western Cape in terms of transparent policing.

As the Gauteng Provincial Government, we must ensure that all people in Gauteng feel safe, and this is not the case in our province. Government needs to exercise a complete overhaul of the SAPS if the community of this province is to gain confidence in the criminal justice system.  This can only be realized if we appoint professional leadership in all criminal justice departments and law enforcement agencies.  We must stop the damaging political interference that has characterized the current system.