Crime levels in our province remain frighteningly high and it is one of the biggest disincentives to investment. This in turn impacts negatively on job creation. The high rate of crime also undermines our fundamental freedom – the right to safety and security.
This is why this department has a key role to play in its oversight work over the SAPS. The crying demand from across this province is: We want improved safety and security. We want a police service that protects us and responds to our calls speedily.
One of the findings which I want to highlight is the issue of non – co operation by the SAPS with the department, with regard to making information available to enable the department to perform its oversight functions.
If one turns to page 42 of the annual report, the department was not able to meet its target and objectives in relation to consolidated reports on fraud and anti – corruption within the SAPS. The reason for the deviation and I quote: “fruitless attempts were made to obtain information from the SAPS”.
Honourable members will be familiar that in 2002 the then National Commissioner Jackie Selebi abolished all the specialised units, including the anti-corruption unit – The police’s own anti-corruption unit. This was a disastrous strategic error which has had negative consequences for policing in this province. The attitude of the SAPS in not co-operating with the department in this regard is totally unacceptable.
We live in a constitutional democracy with civilian government. Section 206 of our Constitution clearly mandates provincial oversight of the SAPS. There needs to be a change in attitude of the SAPS in this regard.
A second issue which I want to comment on is the finalisation of the review of the provincial crime prevention strategy. This has been delayed due to uncertainties with the review of the national crime prevention strategy.
Chairperson oversight over the SAPS is a provincial competence. We do not need to be reliant on national strategies to make progress in this regard. We need to have our own provincial vision of how we are going to take forward oversight over the SAPS.
In the Western Cape where the Democratic Alliance is in government, it has introduced a community safety Act to improve oversight over the SAPS. There is no reason why we cannot do the same. We need to utilise our provincial powers to the maximum in order to improve safety and security for all. I therefore strongly support the committee’s recommendation that the province should review its own strategy then supplement it later if there is national input.
Small and medium sized enterprises are major contributors to employment in our economy but when these businesses are threatened by criminal activities, they land up spending more on crime prevention measures and less on resources to employ people and develop their businesses further.
Our commercial and communal agricultural sector is an important contributor to our provincial economy. When anyone in this sector is under siege from stock theft it impacts negatively on the whole provincial economy. I would be interested to hear from the MEC what is being done to improve rural safety. Unless we can improve rural security the exodus from rural areas to urban areas will continue and our rural areas will become an aging and economically unviable population.
The department has had success with the campaign its lead to close down illegal taverns and one must give credit to this. The year under review the 2012/13 year, saw 1,782 illegal liquor outlets closed. What is disturbing is that a similar amount for licences were granted. We all know the relationship between liquor and crime and how particularly violent crimes are fuelled by alcohol. Until the provincial liquor act is amended one is going to be constantly fighting a losing battle. These taverns open up all over the place in conflict with municipality zoning schemes but a major problem is that the liquor act does not require you to comply with municipal zoning schemes.
For years now the provincial government has talked about amending the provincial liquor act. It’s time for action.
The MEC for Economic Development must tell us when this act is going to be amended.
Although the department has improved its accountability meetings with the SAPS I do not believe that the oversight done by the department is vigorous or broad enough to improve policing in the province. The recent report of our visit to 10111 centres highlights the failures of policing in this province. I queried this in the committee and the MEC informed me that it wasn’t part of the national secretariat’s guidelines to visit 10111 centres. This came as a total shock to me. This department needs to oversight every aspect of the SAPS’ work in the province and this department should be reporting to the committee on its oversight recommendations to the SAPS.
There is just a massive gap between what the department says it is doing and what is reported to the committee. This results in a lack of confidence in the department’s oversight work. The recommendation of quarterly reports to the committee in this regard is fully supported.
Let me conclude by congratulating the department once more on its unqualified audit it has the longest running record in this regard in the province. However as the committee noted, the department with the smallest budget should receive a clean audit and that’s something to strive for in the future.