Count the DA in for everyday activism against violence

By Safiyia Stanfley, MPL, DAWN Provincial Chairperson:

The following extract is from a speech delivered today by provincial chairperson of the Democratic Alliance Women’s Network, Safiyia Stanfley, during the Debate on 16 Days of Activism in sitting of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature held in Douglas today.

Moving towards a non-violent society is a worthy ambition. Count the Democratic Alliance in. Our Values Charter shows that we stand with all the hard-working, freedom-loving people of our country who want to live and raise their families in safe communities. Through our collective efforts we can – and must – make progress to a non-violent society.

It is well-known that the abuse of alcohol is a risk factor for domestic violence, which affects one in four South African women.

Considering the facts, it remains a concern for the Democratic Alliance that the Northern Cape Liquor Board approves of liquor license without conducting a sufficient number of compliance investigations. While it approved 55% of the permanent and 90% of the occasional liquor license applications made in the 2014/15 year, the Board rejected only 7% of the total liquor license applications. And while the Board reports having conducted 2 264 compliance investigations, it would have had to conduct more than 3 300 investigations just to meet the industry standard for the amount of licenses it issued in the past financial year.

The Democratic Alliance welcomes the current campaign from the department of Trade and Industry to curb alcohol abuse in the festive season. The announcement from the Northern Cape Liquor Board earlier this week that there will be a programme from their side to enforce liquor licenses will surely tie in with this commendable campaign.

Handing out liquor licenses like lollipops increases the risk of violence in our society.

The Democratic Alliance calls on the Liquor Board to count itself in throughout the year, not just for special occasions, and to exercise daily restraint in regulating the provincial liquor industry.

Once we have become realistic about the challenges, we can become everyday activists striving ceaselessly for a non-violent society. It might be considered trite to say we need three hundred and sixty five days of activism and not merely sixteen, but it remains true.

Of course, it is easy to arrange a feel few-good activities during these sixteen days which creates a superficial awareness of the campaign – but what do we do when the sixteen days have passed? Do we still count ourselves in or do we brush it off so we can hop on the next bandwagon?

We need to investigate methods of realising the goal of non-violence through every celebration hosted by government. How can we hope to be successful in creating a non-violent society if we confine a discussion of this importance to these chambers during these sixteen days alone? Disability Month, for example, overlaps with the Sixteen Days of Activism Campaign. Surely, there cannot be a better opportunity to address the fact that girls with disabilities are more likely to be sexually abused while boys with disabilities are more likely to be physically abused.

And we need the whole of the criminal justice system to be on the side of non-violence.

We have recently experienced a wave of violence against police officers, with more than fifty police officers dying in the line of duty since January. It is easy to forget that amongst the dead are women who sacrificed themselves to make our society safer. Those who patrol our streets at night and those who risk their safety to protect us, should in turn be protected by us.

As a country, we have a strong framework established by the Domestic Violence Act to ensure the theoretical safety of each person in her or his own home. However, the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act and compliance with protection orders are known to be problematic.

We are all aware of a high-profile incident reported in June where a woman was seriously assaulted at her home. We need to ask – if a woman cannot be safe in her own house, if she cannot be safe with a protection order in her hands and a police officer at her side, how and when can she be part of a non-violent society? If this sickening case does not serve as a wake-up call that much work lies ahead in realising our collective ambition, nothing will.

The South African Police Services must become properly resourced and adequately trained to ensure that every protection order that is issued, is upheld. Courts do not issue protection orders because they have nothing else to do with their time, but because the physical safety and security of a person is threatened.

The Democratic Alliance supports the message that has been consistently sent from the Northern Cape High Court this year that there is no place in our non-violent society for those who violate the innocent.

If we are realistic and work on a daily basis, if we can count the whole criminal justice system in, we will make progress towards a non-violent society. For the sake of our shared future, this must happen sooner rather than later.