DEBATE ON COMMUNITY SAFETY AND LIAISON SPEECH

HON. M.B GWALA, MPL

KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, Pietermaritzburg

21 May 2021

 

Hon Chairperson, Hon MEC, Hon Members, Lt General Mkhwanazi and his staff.

Before I dwell on the business of the day, allow me to register my concern about the behaviour of the Police Officers at Kwa -Khangelamankengane after the commotion erupted at a peaceful meeting of the Royal family members when the WILL was read by the legal representatives of the late Regent Queen Mantfombi Dlamini- Zulu a daughter of the late King Sobhuza II of Eswatini.

The Police Officers assigned to render protection at the Palace were either slept on duty or were instructed not to act so that the commotion could destabilize the situation with the intention of frustrating the process of appointing the new King. The Police later showed up and whisked away the King and deliberately excluded the most Senior Prince and Prime Minister of the King and the Zulu Nation whose life was in danger as the person who convene such a meeting. The person is a Statesman known by everybody whose credentials were recognized even by leaders such as the late icon President Nelson Mandela. Who was quoted by Sunday Tribune of the 1st September 1997 as saying “…. but you can’t run the country without him”.

Even after efforts were made that he be accompanied by police to return back home to KwaPhindangene to ensure his safety, such service was withdrawn halfway before reaching home knowing very well that most assassinations take place as targets are arriving home.

What is most disturbing is that the denial of the withdrawal of the Police Unit at Kwa Khangelamankengane do not come from the police but from certain individuals who painted a gloomy picture that Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi blew the matter out of proportion. Prince Buthelezi has a clean record of speaking the truth. He never misled the Nation in all his entire life. He is an honest leader and can’t mix issues let alone mixing politics with Royal issues as Johnny – come – lately’s in politics think that they can teach him how to fulfil his Royal responsibilities in a professional manner which he started doing long ago with professionalism and diligence even before some of them were born.
If any of these leaders continue to mislead the public on this matter arguing that no one ordered the Police Unit withdrawal from the Palace then the IFP will have no option but to call on the Premier to appoint an independent investigation on the veracity of the matter, so that we put the matter to rest once and for all.

Criminals on the run
The IFP is concerned that three weeks after a prison truck was ambushed in Pietermaritzburg, police are still looking for 13 prisoners who escaped. Once again, we call for a thorough investigation to be conducted to ascertain how the “heavily armed men” who hijacked a prison truck knew about the route and time of the transportation of prisoners? One of the questions arises is whether the country do still have an effective crime intelligence or not? The IFP believes that this might be an inside job where some police officers colluded with criminals awaiting trial together with the hijackers. This is because the close relationship between prisoners and law enforcement officers in this country is questionable as it clearly manifests the lack of law and order in the country.

Missing school boy
The IFP is concerned about the recent developments in the case of a 17-year-old boy, who was allegedly kidnapped in Newlands East when an unknown person in a silver / gold Mercedes Benz picked him up after he was accused of stealing a cellphone of a fellow learner. Mmeli Ngcobo from Castle Hill has been missing since February 22. The case was opened at Newlands Police Station (CAS 148/02/2021). What is shocking is that the alleged kidnappers were arrested and suddenly granted bail without stating the whereabouts of the victim. We feel that this is a cover up because there is an alleged information linking the police on this matter. The judgment undertaken by the court did not represent a diminution of the justice system’s independence or integrity.

It is so important that victims have faith in our criminal justice system. To achieve this, they must be confident that crime will be investigated and prosecuted and that the courts will deliver speedy justice. We cannot have a justice system which appears to discriminate against a section of our community. We live in a mafia state, where the police and gangsters laugh and joke together on the street in front of a police precinct, or over a traumatic incident of attempted car-hijacking or kidnapping.

The IFP calls on government to set up a Commission to look at the operation of the justice system. I believe the number one priority must be to look at how we build public confidence. This means, solving more crime, getting more offenders into court and to overhaul how we treat victims and witnesses so that they have faith in justice system. We implore the newly appointed KZN Police Commissioner to intervene in this matter.

2021/22 Budget allocation
The IFP welcomes the appointment of Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Lucky Mkhwanazi as KwaZulu-Natal’s new Police Commissioner. Due to his vast experience in policing, we hope that he will perform well in executing his duties, although he is faced with a mammoth task of eradicating crime.

It is not helping that the National Minister General Bheki Cele released latest crime statistics just a few days ago, tracking criminal patterns in the country between January to March 2021. Taking all Stats into account, crime decreased by 14.4% over the first quarter of 2021 but KwaZulu-Natal recorded a double digit increase in overall crimes of 16.9%. This has been the case for many years. He should deal with crime hotspots which includes Pietermaritzburg and Durban by ensuring that the Department is capacitated to eradicate illegal guns in our society which are used by criminals to terrorise and kill people.

The IFP is of the view that the provincial government together with national government should review this R233.4 million allocation to the Department of Community Safety & Liaison in KZN because the numbers have been a constant reminder that it is not adequate to meet the mammoth task of keeping KwaZulu-Natal people safe. The proposed budget cuts of R6.183 million, R9.309 million and R14.474 million over the MTEF will only make matters worse.

The current budget is not even adequate to deal with the provision of the scarce and limited resources and equipment’s for the police officers to meet their constitutional obligations.
We urge the Hon MEC to address the issue of irregular expenditure as the department incurred the irregular expenditure amounting to R14.1 million in 2019/20 due to the disregard of SCM processes.

We further note that the department has 33 critical vacant posts. The underspending of R1.271 million is due to delays in filling vacant posts in line with Covid19 lockdown should now be addressed because lockdown rules have been lifted.

Lack of resources to address GBV
We, as the IFP are concerned with slow progress to curb violence against women, children, people with disabilities and the elderly. These crimes must be prioritised.

The severe DNA backlogs at the SAPS Forensic Science laboratories as there are 208,291 cases as announced by the Minister of Police are very disturbing as this delay justice for the victims and prosecution of perpetrators. This issue must be expedited.

The IFP supports the Budget.

I thank you.