MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE
INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY
Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Weekly Newsletter to the Nation
My dear friends and fellow South Africans,
One of the unfair facts of life is how often wrong or distorted perceptions stick. Once a perception is cast, it can prove almost impossible to shift.
South Africa, unfortunately, is perceived in many parts of the world as a criminal haven. A walk down London's Regent Street or Sydney's Oxford Street will, sadly, provide ample anecdotal evidence to support this perception.
Take the controversial television advertisement depicting a conversation between a crime whinger (South African of course!) and an upbeat Aussie in an airport line about South Africa's preparedness for the 2010 World Cup.
This prestigious showpiece is expected to attract a staggering 450 000 visitors to our shores. Images of packed high-tech stadiums with retractable roofs - twenty-first century cathedrals - set against the dramatic backdrops of our coastal cities will be beamed into cyberspace.
But if prospective international visitors judge our country not safe enough to travel to, the event could turn out to be a monumental flop and any economic gains hoped for will vanish into thin air.
Yet the chief victims of crime are ordinary South Africans.
It is totally unacceptable that tens of thousands of rapists, murderers, paedophiles, vehicle hijackers, drug dealers and thieves of all kinds as well as national and international criminal syndicates strike every hour and everyday in South Africa - usually with impunity.
Our criminal justice system is, let's face it, on the verge of collapse. The government's inability to identify, combat, isolate and successfully prosecute and incarcerate criminals is a national disgrace. But I don't think it is because the government is somehow soft on crime - despite the perception to that effect.
The problem is, as I pointed out in my letter last week, that in many ways the South African state is weak and ineffective. The fight against crime is another reason why we must win the political argument that the decentralised state is more effective than the unitary state in delivering essential services. The state's number one obligation is to protect its citizens. The state is paid by the taxpayer to do just that - and more.
Policing in South Africa, for example, remains highly centralised, whilst countries such as the US, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Germany have a multiplicity of policing agencies at the national, state and local levels. The recent appalling crime statistics illustrate that the highly centralised system of policing much favoured by the ANC alliance is an abject failure. Policing must be decentralised as a matter of urgency, with a new and competent leadership.
We would like to see our CJS bolstered where necessary by requests for international assistance and training to alleviate obvious skills shortages.
This would include the latest FBI and Scotland Yard DNA analysis and specialist detective investigation techniques and intelligence requirements. This is vital to bust gangs and international syndicates as well as effectively collate evidence required by our courts.
And whilst we salute the bravery, hard work and sacrifice of the majority of our law enforcement officers, there is a desperate need for the structural readjustment of the entire criminal justice system.
Unhealthy, unfit, semi-literate police officers untrained in detective work and forensics must be identified and where necessary removed from their posts until they have been assisted to improve their skills and physical ability to perform their duties. Regular performance audits on all personnel must be undertaken and acted upon.
Communities themselves must at all times report indolent, arrogant and corrupt officials to relevant complaints bodies for investigation and use the media to highlight proof of their concerns. This is an important reason why devolved community policing is so indispensable.
I also fear that crime is sometimes glamorised in our townships and often epitomised in song and on film. This culture must be condemned and citizens must accept the truth of the saying that "he who profits from crime, commits it". The purchase of stolen goods, for instance, must be seen for what it is: a crime.
This means that role models are needed throughout our communities to consistently expose the horrors and dangers of criminal behaviour, drug trafficking and get-rich-quick scams.
Other measures the IFP would like to see implemented are :-
an acknowledgement and identification of all crime "hot spots" to be regularly reported to all communities;
official surveys and analyses of victims of crimes and jurisprudence as to the rights of victims of crime;
tax rebates for the private security measures many South Africans have been forced to acquire in attempts to provide for the safety of their families and communities;
accountability from police service leadership who must now be deployed in positions of high authority on the basis on performance;
a moratorium on all pardons and early release programmes for all prisoners convicted of certain categories of crimes to be stipulated in new legislation to be enacted by Parliament;
a tougher stance from MPs and MPLs on the actions and performance of the Executives, both national and provincial, in relation to all issues pertaining to government responses to crime.
All this, of course, is just the beginning.
Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP