Before I dive into the business of the day, as the IFP, we would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the families, colleagues and KZN Police Management, following the death of two officers during rescue efforts after the KwaZulu-Natal floods. We salute them for their dedication to their lifesaving work. May their souls rest in peace. Further, we also recognise the appointment of Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi as KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner. As an experienced police officer, we hope that he will bring stability. The current security challenges in KZN – political murders, hostel violence, mass killings, GVB and taxi-related crime – necessitate the skills and intervention of an experienced South African Police Service (SAPS) leader.
The IFP supports the R236.9 million Budget Allocation for the Department of Community Safety and Liaison for the 2022/23 financial year. However, as the IFP, we feel that the Budget of R236.9 million is not adequate to meet the demands that this Department faces. This Budget must be similar to the Health and Education Budgets, as we are talking about keeping the Province safe and eradicating crime. Keeping KwaZulu-Natal safe is non-negotiable. It must be taken seriously by increasing the Budget allocated to Department of Community Safety. By increasing the Budget, it will assist in employing more investigators in order to reduce caseloads allocated to each investigator, and in providing the Intelligence Unit with necessary resources, which will assist in preventing the killing of Amakhosi and other mass killings. However, lack of political will from government in addressing such issues is a cause for concern.
The IFP is of the firm view that this Budget must address all critical challenges facing the Department of Community Safety and Liaison. This is not a Budget to be lost through irregular, wasteful and fruitless expenditure – it is for keeping citizens safe.
We have also noted that for the 2022/23 financial year, a significant portion of the Department’s Budget Allocation is directed towards safety promotion activities, such as the Communities-in-Dialogue Programme, mainly in areas where there is instability in the province. The Budget will also finance safety against crime programmes; attend to issues of gender-based and domestic violence; promote police relations with communities, as well as the maintenance and support of community safety structures, such as Community Safety Forums and Community Policing Forums. Further, it will fund the monitoring and evaluation of the functionality of police stations, the monitoring of SAPS specialised units and the investigation of service delivery complaints received against SAPS.
Considering all of the above, serious questions must be asked: is the Department achieving its goals or is it just a futile exercise? How effective are the monitoring systems currently in place to gauge the success of such programmes? Answers to these questions are a yardstick in measuring the successes and the failures of the Department.
We welcome the Budget Allocation of R3.046 million from the Social Sector Incentive EPWP Grant for Provinces. This is used to employ 105 volunteers, who will undertake work, such as research within their wards, as well as reporting crimes. The recruitment of a further 1 225 ward-based volunteers is also commendable. In addition, the Budget must be directed towards addressing all the challenges facing our police stations. Vacant posts in the Department must be urgently filled. People need visible policing in their respective areas.
Keeping citizens safe is paramount and non-negotiable. Crime must be eradicated. Of late, KwaZulu-Natal has become vulnerable to what is perceived to be xenophobic attacks and looting. The IFP believes that it is the duty of government to lead from the front in preventing any actions that might lead to insurgence. Political will is therefore needed to address issues that might cause tension, violence and even loss of life. We must learn from the July 2021 unrest that engulfed our country, where government was caught red-handed with their pants down; sleeping at work. Situations that might cause violence must not be left to the police alone. KwaZulu-Natal must lean on existing structures, such as the multi-party political intervention committee. Police intelligence must actively be detecting crime and violence.
The IFP believes that if we have under-resourced and dilapidated police stations in KwaZulu-Natal, it will be impossible to win the war against crime and keep citizens safe. During an oversight visit this year by Members of the KZN Legislature, as part of the Police Stations’ Functionality Monitoring Programme, the shocking state of our police stations was revealed.
Taylor’s Halt SAPS is a disgrace. It consists of temporary housing erected in 1994, which is now dilapidated. There are rats everywhere; toilets do not function, there is no kitchen and no water. Further, we have learnt of the Ingwavuma Police Station, where police officers are forced to work in their cars because the station is dilapidated. There are also no toilets and police officers have to relieve themselves in the bushes.
This oversight visit exposed the challenges faced by police officers on a daily basis. Some SAPS stations in KZN do not have any vehicles or officers to respond to crime. Other stations visited were found to be completely uninhabitable, with massive infrastructure challenges. This is both degrading and tarnishes the image of the SAPS. We urge you, Hon. MEC, to escalate issues facing police stations that are beyond your jurisdiction to the National Department of Police and Public Works.
The other issue that needs urgent attention is the issue of Inanda Police Station, which has been making news for the wrong reasons, as it consistently records the highest levels of crime. The Hon. MEC and the KZN Police Commissioner, Lt General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, must deal with this issue urgently. Residents of Inanda must be freed from the chains of crime. Women and children must be protected.
For the police, who are charged with the herculean task of ensuring security within our borders, the provision of working equipment is very essential. The police need robust vehicles, modern and sophisticated communications facilities, modern weapons, and adequate fuel to move about and do their work. Limited financial and human resources are destroying the SAPS’ public image. There must be increased police visibility through 24-hour mobile police stations. Further, cases of gender-based violence must be prioritised and the perpetrators of crime must be punished.
The IFP urges government – in particular police management – to re-evaluate salaries being paid to police officers, and to ensure they are being paid enough to cover their living expenses and to provide for their families.
We are concerned about farms attacks. We call on the MEC to invest more resources into deterring this type of crime. Rural safety must be prioritised, as farmers and farmworkers live in constant fear because the government does not deem rural safety a priority.
I thank you.