Hon MB Gwala MPL
IFP Leader in the KZN Legislature
The Department of Community and Liaison is mandated to manage the affairs of SAPS and to implement programmes to fight crime and ensure that KZN is a safe province. But the question that needs to be asked is: Is KZN a safer place to live in today than it was yesterday?
Hon. Speaker, the IFP would like to commend the police men and women who, on a daily basis, go out there, put themselves in harm's way and even arrest some of their own in order to protect us. Often these personnel work under difficult conditions with limited resources.
Therefore we feel that the budget of R187million is just not adequate to meet the demands that this department faces.
We condemn the criminality within the SAPS itself where there are allegations of fraud and corruption. This needs to be tackled head on and rotten potatoes removed.
The IFP wants to state categorically that the issue of crime is still a serious concern in this province although the MEC is always promising to fight this scourge. We now hear of Operation Fiela (to sweep) to fight crime. Fancy names do not solve the problem. If you want to sweep clean, you must have the broom and the people who know how to sweep. The IFP would like to urge the MEC and his Department to ensure that the commitment to fight crime is not an empty one.
I would like to assure the citizens of KZN that the IFP will continue to push and lobby to ensure that the MEC comes up with relevant strategies to fight crime.
Hon. Speaker, it's unfortunate that the IFP must address the elephant in this department which is:
Oversight in law enforcement:
The following strategies must be considered:
1. Change crime reporting timelines: Honourable MEC, we ask that you change the crime reporting timeline from annually to quarterly or even monthly. Such a change will improve oversight.
2. Use crime-statistics as a tool to identify hot spots. If you know where crime is taking place, you will know where to focus your limited resources.
3. Hon Speaker, Iwunga iyaziqeda izingane zethu, drug related crimes are escalating and families are destroyed by iwunga in our province. The IFP is calling on this government to re-establish the specialised narcotics unit to combat this scourge in our communities.
4. Establish a fully functional municipal police service: If you want to make KwaZulu-Natal communities safer, the establishment of this unit is essential, in order to assist the SAPS.
5. Training and capacitating our police officers and ensuring that all vacant posts are filled. Hon Macingwane, with the drastic increase in service delivery protests, our men and women in uniform need urgent training on crowd management.
The recent spate of xenophobic attacks has exposed a weakness in our crime intelligence capability and our response capabilities. Why is it that we did not see this coming when we claim to have undercover police officers on the ground, we claim to have functioning war rooms; youth ambassadors working with and in communities? If all of these structures are in place and functioning as this government claims, then we should have been able to prevent the shame that befell our province. Our officers deal with huge workloads daily and they just cannot cope with the additional pressures.
6. There must be a review in police personnel salaries. Their salaries must be increased. We need to ensure that SAPS is a rewarding career that our children can pursue.
7. Implementation of Rural Safety Units. The attacks on farms are a major concern, not only does it result in horrendous deaths and despair, but also compromises our province's food security.
Madame Speaker, the Hon MEC must tell the House where he stands on the issue of the KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni for her alleged close relationship with Durban businessman Thoshan Panday?
Hon MEC, in Programme 2 there are many initiatives to drive community interaction and funding is provided for this purpose. On page 427 reference is made to, among other things, the Communities in Dialogue Programme, Holistic community liaison framework and Societal Education to Build Safer Communities Programme (Lwisana Nobugebengu). These programmes are in addition to the CPFs, War Rooms, Street Committees, etc. with all these initiatives in place, Hon MEC why were we not able to prevent the recent xenophobic attacks? It is clear, Madame Speaker that these programmes are not serving their intended purpose so we should not continue to waste money that we do not have on ineffective programmes.
One other set of initiatives that may contribute to peace in this province is action against taxi violence. The taxi industry is an important pillar of our integrated transport system but it must operate in a crime-free environment.
The IFP feels that there are still not enough personnel to effectively combat crime and to improve visible policing. The latter is one way of restoring public confidence. When communities see the police patrolling their streets on a regular basis they obviously will have more confidence in the SAPS.
Another way of restoring public confidence in the police is to improve the public's interaction with the SAPS. It is simply unacceptable that any police officer should be unable to take down accurate statements from a complainant or witness, or that police take hours to respond to cries for help or that bumbling officers destroy or contaminate vital evidence at a crime scene.
How traumatic it must be for a rape victim to have to relate her ordeal to an uncaring officer in a cold charge office where there is no privacy? Often suspects get away because the police do not have the rape testing kits or the officers do not know the proper procedures to follow. Funding needs to be prioritised for the provision of essential equipment and proper training of officers.
The IFP calls for an end to nepotism, abuse of public power and neglect of rule of law, following allegations of unfair labour practice, which has been linked to nepotism, after many hopeful applicants complained that their names had been removed from the "grooming camp" list of the SAPS.
Thirty nine hopeful applicants from Kokstad and other areas in KZN went through a series of examinations but at the last hour the rules were changed and they were unsuccessful. This clearly shows that there is a hidden agenda which could be related to nepotism in the recruitment process at SAPS.
Every effort must be made to ensure that the appointment and promotion processes are open, transparent and impartial. Where allegations are found to be true, timely and appropriate action must be taken by top leadership to rectify the situation.
The IFP calls on the MEC to encourage all police stations to start chat rooms.
Community members will form chat groups via social media platforms and be able to keep police updated on what is happening in their respective communities.
The IFP will continue to exercise intensive oversight over this department and the MEC to ensure a safer environment for the citizens of KZN.
I thank you.
Mr Blessed Gwala, 078 290 5842