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A case for policing: Dedication to women, children and other vulnerable groups

15 May 2017

Honourable Speaker
Minister of Police, Mr Bheki Cele
Honourable Ministers that are here today
Deputy Ministers
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, the Honourable Mr Francois Beukman
Honourable Members of Parliament
MEC’s from provinces
Police entities (CSP, IPID, SAPS, DPCI and PSIRA)
Members of civil society and labour movements
Esteemed guests
Comrades and Friends
Fellow South Africans

I rise in this People’s house this afternoon with a pained and heavy heart that today at this age, our country continues to bury its children, especially the girl child. Recently on the 1st May 2018, Zolile Khumalo a Mangosuthu University of Technology student was brutally killed, this was followed by the ruthless death of Katleko Joja, a 10-year-old child. This time last year we were mourning the death of a Walter Sisulu University student, Lwando Mantshontsho who died on the 12th May 2017. When he was killed he had only five months to go before graduating as a medical doctor. Unfortunately, these are not the only incidents of its kind in our country that has had to endure too many other horrendous incidences of a similar nature and if we continue along this path, it will not be the last.

Since these incidencies of the brutal killings of our children and our students at institutions of higher learning. On Friday, 11th May 2018, together with Minister Cele, we officially launched the Campus Safety program in the Tshwane University of Technology. Going forward we will embark on the roadshow to all institutions of higher learning with the aim of having campus safety dialogues.

In the same vein, we have partnered with the Ministries of Basic Education, Higher Education and Training and Social Development to re-organise the failed school safety summit that was supposed to be in 2011. Part of this School Safety Summit is to review the current school safety initiatives, for an example, we need to take action against the continued death of our children in pit toilets especially in rural areas. Therefore the school safety program should include amongst others, health safety and road safety.

Former President Nelson Mandela once said, a country that does not take care of its children, women, and the elderly has no future. We need to join all our efforts to defend the vulnerable, the weak and the threatened in our ranks.

Honourable members, in this year of the centennial of our stalwarts, Mama Sisulu and Tata Mandela, we stand before you to present the 2018/19 Budget Speech for Vote 20 and 23. We can also not forget that this year we mark 40 years since the death of one of our fearless leaders, baba Robert Sobukhwe.

As we reflect on the lives of these and other leaders, we commit ourselves to ensuring that what they stood for is realized during our lifetime and for generations to come. In life, as in death, their legacies, continue to remind us of our shared vision and what we stand for. They were consistent in promoting human rights and justice, throughout their lives. They advocated for a united South Africa free from the bonds of sexism, racism, and discrimination based on religion, class or any other arbitrary distinction.

The Apartheid police were at the center of ensuring that the narrow-prejudiced agenda of the National Party government and their puppets were implemented at all costs. They were at the center of harassing, torturing, denigrating, jailing and killing those who dare challenge their tyranny. We should not forget that even though they and the rest of the nation, faced these and other despicable acts, our leaders and many more of our unsung heroes and heroines stood tall and firm in upholding the principles of negotiations and peaceful protest. They stood steady in facing a brutal and ugly regime. The decision to fight fire-with-fire came as thousands of our people were killed during ostensibly peaceful protests. They responded by saying, and I quote the MK Manifesto, “there comes a time in the life of any nation where there remain only two choices, to submit or fight. That time has come to South Africa.”

We are dedicating this budget in honour of the women, children, the disabled and other vulnerable groups in our country. We understand and feel their pain and suffering whether in our own families, our churches and mosques, our schools and tertiary institutions, our social clubs, private and public-sector institutions and daily life on our streets. In this regard, we are calling for zero tolerance towards violence against these valuable groups of our society as we continue to receive disturbing news of the killing of young women students at our universities and colleges. As men, across all sectors of society, we should stand up and say to the nation, any man who is abusing a woman or girl child is not part of us and must face …. the full might of the law!

Honourable members let us not forget what our mothers and grandmothers stood for in the past decades and centuries: which is the full emancipation of women.

In this budget we recognise the sterling work done in policing by our predecessors since the dawn of our democracy. We remember and salute the contribution they have made towards ensuring that safety and security for all are a reality in South Africa.

Honourable Chair, as we speak today, we have received the following results from the 2016/17 report by Statistics SA. The Victims of Crime Survey reveals that, the proportion of households who believed that violent crime in their area had increased in the preceding three years, decreased between 2015/16 and 2016/17 following a period of consistent increases between 2011 to 2014/15. The percentage of households who felt that the level of violent crime has not changed also showed an upward trend during the period 2011 to 2016/2017.

There has been a general decline over time in the percentage of households who felt that property crime has decreased. This was accompanied by an increase until 2015/2016 in the number of those who believed that this type of crime was increasing, followed then by a slight decrease between 2015/2016 and 2016/17.

Between 2011 and 2016/2017, households generally felt safer walking alone in their areas of residence during the day than at night. However, feelings of safety have been declining, regardless of whether it is during the day or at night. In 2016/2017 about 84,8% of households felt safe in their area during the day (53,9% felt very safe and 30,9% fairly safe), while 15,2% felt unsafe when it was dark (10,6% felt a bit unsafe and 4,6% very unsafe). Honourable members, whilst a lot still need to be done, this is giving us a positive indication towards the NDP vision, where women and children are expected to walk free in our streets without any fear. It also shows us that we must further invest on basic services such as street lights etc.

In the previous budget, we undertook many tasks, including the following:

  1. To engage with communities across the country with the aim of listening to and understanding their experiences, expectations, and challenges;
  2. We planned to start a process of engagement on tertiary campus and school safety;
  3. To undertake research in the murder capital of the country, Nyanga, WC
We can confidently report that we have listened to and robustly engaged communities across the country. To name but a few, we started by meeting the Kings and Chiefs in the Eastern Cape, followed by meetings with members of their constituencies, and we visited diverse communities in all the 9 provinces.

Honourable chair, we undertook unannounced visits to different police stations across the country; gave support to officers at roadblocks; visited gang infested areas and crime hot spots; visited families of the public and of police who were inhumanely killed by criminals; attended to individual service-related complaints and finally, we reviewed relevant policing policies and operational prescripts.

Honourable members, whilst we believe more work still needs to be done in this area, we have visited numerous academic institutions where crime and violence are prevalent with the aim of conscientising the students, academics, officials, parents and other stakeholders on the need to work together to prevent these atrocities. We have also partnered with various stakeholders with the intention of addressing crime and violence at our colleges and universities.

It is our intention that the research agenda of the SAPS is driven by the material conditions on the ground, such as crime trends and an understanding of violence hotspots on the one hand, and the need for innovations and the appropriate use of technology on the other. We have initiated a research project in Nyanga, Western Cape. This area continues to be the murder capital of our country. The first phase of this research was undertaken internally by the SAPS; however, a more detailed and participatory approach is now called for. A team led by our office comprising local academic institutions, CPF and other NGO’s, other government departments and the SAPS has been established to ensure that this work is diligently undertaken. This team has already discussed the existing information and shared light on gaps that require further research; the terms of reference have already been developed and agreed upon by my office. This project is to be undertaken in this financial year.

Honourable members, it is not normal to have a place in our country that continues to lead for more than 5 years as a murder capital without changes. As people of South Africa, we deserve tangible answers whether is it about strategy, tactics or something else? Hence, we are saying we need an independent body to undertake this task, in a manner that is objectively verifiable, scientifically sound and credible. Chair our people in Nyanga and other hotspots deserve interventions that will bring about a change in the material reality and quality of life of their lives as enshrined in our Constitution. Honourable members with your support and that of other government departments, we need to act now to make a difference.

Amidst real fiscal constraints, there is an ever-growing demand for police resources in our country. Given the fact that police in South Africa has been around for more than 100 years, the concentration of resources, such as police stations has been more in affluent areas with the aim then of looking after the interest of a certain race and class. Since 1994, the democratic government has been trying to address this issue and much more needs to be done to meet these and other demands, for example, through the provision of mobile service stations. These service stations are distributed in areas of the highest need, where people cannot easily access police services. Bring police closer to communities also assist with police visibility and the availability of police to respond to other social and economic concerns of the people such as making affidavits, and the like. Mobile service stations have been distributed in both rural and urban areas across the country. Honourable members, we can report that in the last financial year, we have distributed 15 mobile service stations across the country. Initially communities were very positive on taking receipt of these facilities. But in most cases after the launch of these facilities by our office, the shortage of uniformed police personnel means that they remain unstaffed and communities are unable to take leadership of these much-needed facilities. However, we intend to monitor and evaluate the use of these services to correct inefficiencies and address poor service delivery.

One of the fundamental pillars of our transformation was to address equity in our ranks. It is decidedly unfortunate that during the transition process, the Non-Statutory Forces (NSF) were left out and denied a leadership role in shaping the police future. We are in the process of addressing these anomalies, Honourable chair, we are pleased to report that in the previous financial year we have ensured that the NSF members receive scholarships and could participate in professional development initiatives; there has been payment of their pensions and outstanding leave; long service awards payments have been made and the adjustment of pensions is being undertaken. Processes that require finalisation include the alignment of ranks and enlistment and the continuation of mechanism to more effectively deploy and utilise these members in service of all the people of our country.

Community Policing is a foundational pillar towards effective and democratic policing. We cannot achieve excellence in policing without the involvement of our people at the level of family, street, religious institution, school, social club, work and other. Community participation is at the centre of any development in South Africa, a tenet reflected both in our Constitution and in the National Development Plan (NDP). As the government we are committed, not to building a ‘political society’ ruled through force but a ‘civil or society’, ruled through consent. A ‘civil society’ not narrowly conceived in liberal democratic thought but as used by Antonio Gramsci who reminds us that civil society can also be a public sphere of political struggle and contestation over ideas and norms, and dare I add, standards.

Additionally, in building broad-based community participation and in our CPF’s in particular, we need to ensure that we have independent cadres who are not in the pockets of criminal networks. If we are really committed to establishing local structures, we must ensure that they get maximum support across government and from all levels of the SAPS.

During the state of the nation address, our President, His Excellency, Mr Ramaphosa called for the implementation of a community policing strategy and a youth crime prevention strategy. Community police forums are key to both strategies and issues of roles and responsibilities, funding mechanisms, organisation, administrative protocols, and governance matters, among other, should constitute part of our policy directives for these local institutions. Whilst we see CPF’s as a nucleus of community involvement we continue to call upon all structures of our communities to make crime prevention and safety and security for all a priority. Honourable Speaker, our office can report that it has interacted with the CPF board on several occasions with the aim of strengthening their role in policing; we are currently consolidating strategic policies in line with CPF’s mandate. We call upon the municipalities, NGO's and private sector to assist in ensuring that this vision is realised, which is why in this financial year we will prioritise strengthening the functioning of community police forums encourage for the establishment community safety forums (CSF), and other local structures. Honourable speaker, whilst we need to accommodate some elements of uniqueness of provinces, we need to have a minimum basket of areas to be standardized across the country. In this regard, we will Nationalise the concept of Bambanani across all police precincts.

Honourable members, in the same vein, we cannot fight crime without investing in the youth both within the police and society in general. Youth are the majority in our country and they are the future leaders and custodians of our democracy. We have been engaging with the youth within the SAPS with the aim of listening to their needs for development, opportunity and challenge, and to provide them with the necessary support. We call upon leaders of private and public-sector institutions at all levels of our society to involve youth, to support and ensure that they enjoy the necessary access and opportunities. In this financial year, we will have youth crime summits with the aim of putting youth at the center of problem solving and innovation.

As part of our visits to different provinces, we learned that sex workers face ongoing threats and violence from individuals and various organised structures in our society. Such actions violate the rights of these workers and are against the law. We must emphasise that there is no one in South Africa that has a right outside the legal processes to take the law into their hands. A range of initiatives and interventions in partnership with NGO’s and advocacy institution are being fast-tracked to prepare police and the criminal justice cluster to better serve the sector. The same despicable actions have been observed in reported cases of domestic violence. All South African women, children, and other vulnerable groups are our treasures, we are compelled to treat them with respect and dignity and their safety needs to be our priority. We call on all our law enforcement agencies and the community at large to rise and stand up lawfully when women, children, and vulnerable groups are treated horrible. “Sithi bayekeni oodade bethu, noo mama bethu xana ningabafuni, ningabahlukumezi okanye nibabethe”. We should all remember that the NDP commits us to a time when women and children shall walk free in our streets.

We call upon all South Africans to take care of the police. Night and day, they perform a thankless job on our behalf, they patrol the streets whilst we are sleeping and are the front-line defenders of our Constitution. They are our brothers and sisters and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. The brutal killings of the police are assuredly disturbing. We call upon all communities at various levels of our society to extend a warm hand towards our police officials. In turn, we call upon all our police officials to be professional and adhere to their code of conduct.

On our part, we have started negotiations with private physical training institutions to assist in ensuring that health and fitness centres are accessible to the police and that there are innovative and structured programs to enhance the fitness levels of police officials. These institutions have responded positively, and we trust that before the end of the financial year these deals will be finalised.

We also visited some of the barracks or living quarters of members and the conditions of some of these are horrid. We call upon the relevant government departments and private sector institutions to be open to providing accommodation to the police and specially to rank and file corps. Wellness and health are key to effective policing. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa promotes adherence to our bill of human rights and all applicable regional and international charters, treatises and conventions. Rights include the right to life, freedom, and security of person and property, and rights of those arrested, detained and accused and many more. While it is incumbent on the police to uphold these rights without discrimination, all police officials are in turn entitled to these self-same rights.

We have observed the disturbing trend of the killing of police. The establishment and support of police oversight institutions such as the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS), Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and Office of the Judge are to ensure checks and balances, responsive policies, research, monitoring and evaluation and rule of law. Honourable member, if we are fully committed towards excellent police conduct, good performance, compliance and progressive policing, we must strengthen the aforementioned institutions.

One of the steps that the Ministry will be taking shortly is to release the report of the international Panel of Experts, established by former Minister of Police, Mr. Nathi Nhleko in terms of the recommendations of the Marikana Commission. In releasing the report, the Ministry recognises that it is not possible to undo the harm that was caused at Marikana, and our efforts are still to continuing to resolve the issues of compensation. The Panel though was established to focus on the systemic policing issues that contributed to the tragic events at Marikana with a view to ensuring that events of this kind do not happen again. The Ministry has now received the report of the Panel which it is reviewing whilst considering what steps can be taken to ensure implementation of the Panel’s recommendations and proposed interventions.

The report of the Panel is a wide-ranging one that examines in detail both the question of professionalising the SAPS as well as the issue of the policing of protest by Public Order Policing Units. The report comes at an opportune time as protest continues to be the responsibility of and a challenge to the police when it is characterised by violence. Government is committed to ensuring the right to peaceful and unarmed protest, that is provided in Section 17 of the Constitution is protected. At the same time, the government wants to ensure that the police can manage violent protest effectively without resorting to unnecessary force. We therefore strongly support the main focus areas of the Report including the overall issue of professionalising the SAPS as well as the need to strengthen POP to serve as a specialist crowd management capability.

The work of the international Panel of Experts has also provided an opportunity to review and evaluate the legislative and policy framework governing the police, and that of the operational prescripts that shape police operations. Key legislation includes, the SAPS Act 68 of 1995 and the Regulation of Gatherings Act 205 of 1993 and key operational prescripts include National Instruction 4 of 2014.

Appropriate regional and international benchmarking will continue so as to ensure that our office can be secure in the knowledge that further development and improvement of its change strategy are evidence based and informed by innovative ideas and practices. So, while internal and external dialogues will continue over the course of the budget year, we wish to thank the Panel and the contribution of our international partners to the Panel, the Republic of Zimbabwe, the Federal Republic of Russia, and the governments of Brazil and the Netherlands.

We are therefore taking a strong interest in the report of the Panel and in supporting the implementation of the Panel’s recommendations and believe that these will assist us in instituting a professional and dedicated crowd management capacity and capability.

Lastly Honourable Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Minister of Police, my colleagues, my support staff and the people of South Africa for giving me this opportunity to present our budget vote.

Enjoy the few weeks left in this Africa Month

Thank you

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