Andrew Louw, MPL
DA Northern Cape: Leader
The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the reinstatement of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units in the Northern Cape by Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, in Kimberley yesterday.
The DA has all along opposed the disbanding of the units and has been calling for their reinstatement since 2006. Our calls were vindicated by a Rapcan Study which proved that the dismantling of specialized FCS units severely hindered efforts to tackle crimes against women and children. Furthermore, international best practice and numerous studies confirm that such specialized units are the most effective manner in dealing with specialised forms of crime.
However, from the time of the disbanding of the units until now, there has been an absence of political will in government and in the SAPS in relation to the prioritization of victims, especially in terms of crimes against women and children. SAPS restructuring also failed to take into account the specialized nature of FCS services, resulting in confusion and uncertainty which consequently led to the placement of FCS staff in unsuitable positions, weakening the quality of service provided. This can be seen in the upward trend in all sexual offences in the Northern Cape. Not to mention general statistics indicating that one in six women is abused, which translates into the fact that thousands of women are suffering under the hands of an abusive partner in the Northern Cape alone. Or that it is estimated that nationally around 30 000 children per year are victims of sexual abuse.
The DA sincerely hopes that yesterday’s “relaunch” marks a turnaround in provincial government’s attitude towards combating domestic violence and crimes against women and children in the Northern Cape. Personal safety is an essential prerequisite for an Open Opportunity Society for All. At present, though, our people face some of the highest crime rates in the country, even in the world, and many feel trapped inside their homes, and suspicious of those in their communities. We cannot build a united, prosperous nation while so many are trapped in a web of terror caused by crime.
This said, Minister Mthethwa’s concession that the FCS units are important constitutes evidence that the DA’s policy framework contains some of the most effective solutions for South Africa in general and the fight against crime in particular. Just as the ANC has recently moved to support wage subsidies and an income support grant – two key DA policies – so the ANC government is fast realizing that their policy of centralised policing is simply not working and that specialised units are the common sense approach to effectively tackling crime in South Africa.