@RishigenV: DA KZN to submit Community Safety Bill

By: Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL DA KZN Spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison DURING portfolio committee budget hearings, members were told that the Department of Community Safety & Liaison has the smallest provincial budgetary allocation – in spite of its extremely important task of keeping our communities safe. It is therefore our duty as members of the provincial legislature to not only monitor the internal financial workings of the department but also to ensure that KwaZulu-Natal gets value for money for its limited budget. South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal have recently witnessed a period of extreme xenophobic violence. The Democratic Alliance condemns this violence in the strongest terms. The unprecedented violence, assaults and murder of foreign nationals and the looting of their shops are totally unacceptable in this democratic era. We send our deepest and sincerest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones. Our brothers and sisters in Africa and Asia supported and housed many South Africans during the fight against Apartheid. There are currently thousands of South Africans working in other African and Asian countries, helping to grow South African businesses and create South African jobs. Criminal charges and police action has to be taken against all persons guilty of committing and/or inciting violence against foreign nationals for any reason. In healthcare there is a saying; ‘Prevention is better than Cure’. After the 2008 Xenophobic attacks ravaged South Africa, the South African Human Rights Commission Report made numerous recommendations to avoid recurrence. We have to ask, where are the new policing guidelines during period of social conflict? Where are the cooperation guidelines between SAPS & SANDF? What community educational programmes against xenophobia were rolled by the department? According to analysts, very few of the SAHRC recommendations have been enforced by this department. Now is the time to urgently evaluate both the department and SAPS’ preparedness and response to the xenophobic attacks. The DA commends policing in certain areas in protecting foreign nationals. However in most areas police officers were grossly outnumbered by rioters and were stretched in terms of resources to fulfil their mandate. The question must be asked – why was the call for support from national SAPS left until so late in the crisis? Another glaring failure in this crisis was Police Crime Intelligence. In the last financial year SAPS budgeted R73milion on crime intelligence, yet were found grossly lacking during these xenophobic attacks. There were numerous reports from foreign nationals of local organising committees planning these attacks in certain areas. Where was crime intelligence to stop them? I personally forwarded intelligence to the station commander of SAPS Greenwood Park two days before the attacks in that community occurred. Despite this intelligence ahead of the attacks, the violent attacks went ahead with seemingly limited steps being put in place by that police station to prevent it. One of my informants had to spend that dreadful Tuesday night in a tree to escape the attacks in the Briardene Informal Settlement. The MEC must investigate what happened to the intelligence I forwarded. KZN’s communities are also buckling under increasing crime levels. The 2014 Crime Statistics paints a picture of a province living in crime. According to the police’s own 2014 statistics: 10 people are murdered per day in KwaZulu-Natal with a further 10 attempted murders per day. A total of 32 women or children are victims of sexual crimes each day, there are 119 house burglaries and 24 hijackings each and every day. Crime levels have reached crisis levels and our communities are reacting to this. The 2015 StatsSA Perceptions of Crime in South Africa revealed that 40% of South African households believe crime increased in their residential areas during the period between 2010 and 2013. A further 41.5% of KwaZulu-Natal households feel unsafe in their area of residence when it is dark. This is not a good story to tell. Crime is a major impediment to the development of a more progressive, productive future for all South Africans. To quote the government’s own 2011 National Planning Commission report “Violent crime and property crimes are so common that many South Africans live in fear. When people feel unsafe it becomes harder for them to pursue their personal goals and to take part in social and economic activities” One of the most important duties of KZN’s Community Safety and Liaison department is to listen to communities and work with them to find solutions. During the 2014 Community Safety Report debate in December 2014, I raised the plight of the communities of Croftdene and Silverglen, Chatsworth who are buckling under crime emanating from the Silverglen Nature Reserve. These communities have been victims of murder, assaults and house burglaries for many years. During his response to the debate, the MEC responded, I quote from Hansard, “When I have more time, I will explain the programme that we have for Chatsworth. It is in place.” Five months later and this community are still awaiting an explanation and the rolling out of this safety programme in their area that you alluded to. There is hope for the improved safety of our communities. That hope includes every single member of this august house. We have been elected by the various communities to address their safety needs. The framers of our Constitution also believed that provincial legislatures and their members should perform proper oversight and influence crime fighting strategies in provinces. Section 206(3) of the South African Constitution empowers provinces to: a. To monitor police conduct b. To oversee the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service, including visible policing c. To promote good relations between communities and the police There is however no provincial legislation ensuring that these constitutional imperatives are enforceable. Many members of this House have found it extremely difficult to perform their constitutionally mandated legislative duties. Provincial commissioner General Ngobeni, through the office of the MEC, has refused to answer parliamentary questions regarding provincial SAPS personnel and vehicle numbers, maintenance of SAPS vehicles, police officer misconduct, farm murders and the provision of victim support rooms and holding cells at police stations. I remind the MEC of his reply, dated 19 November 2014, in which he states that he will engage with the Commissioner regarding her position. I am still awaiting feedback. In response to this, the DA will submit the KZN Community Safety Bill to this House later this month. This private members bill is based on the highly successful Western Cape’s Community Safety Act but through consultation it has been revised for the special circumstances of our province. Provisions of the KZN bill include: * The creation of a police Ombud who will investigate complaints regarding inefficiencies as well as breakdown in relations between the community and the police * Provision for mandatory reports from the Provincial Police Commissioner on matters such as: lost and stolen firearms, death of police officials in the execution of their duties, death by police action and in police custody, the allocation of funds and resources, quarterly reports on numbers of arrests, cases referred to court, prosecutions and convictions, complaints regarding police conduct and service delivery * Improve the responsiveness of the police to the safety concerns that exist in our communities * Provide for the registration of security service providers and require that they report on safety concerns as well as submit reports on lost and stolen firearms * Establish, administer and maintain an integrated safety information system * The integrated safety information system aims to reduce the dependency on crime statistics alone so that we can deploy our limited resources to where they are most needed * To establish the Provincial Safety Advisory Board to advise the provincial minister on matters related to the monitoring and oversight of police As the DA we sincerely hope that our colleagues across the aisle will work together with us to ensure the passing of this bill. The people of our province deserve to feel safe. [END] ##################################################################################### Scanned by MailMarshal – M86 Security’s comprehensive email content security solution. Download a free evaluation of MailMarshal at www.m86security.com #####################################################################################