SPEECH BY BOBBY STEVENSON: BUDGET VOTE AND POLICY SPEECH: SAFETY & SECURITY

Although fighting crime is one of the key priorities of Government, the majority of South Africans continue to live in fear of the criminal element. We never know when they are going to strike next and every member of this house has either been a victim of crime or has a close friend or family member who has been such a victim. Crime continues to, not only cause physical harm to individuals, financial loss, but also takes it’s emotional and psychological toll as any victim of crime will tell you.

it goes without saying that the fight against crime needs to be intensified and this means the oversight work of the Department needs to yield beter results. This cannot be done without sufficient funding. This department is to receive R2 million less for compensation for employees than it did in the last financial year. What this means is that the Department is going to overspend by this amount.

There is no funding for additional posts. If one looks at the adjusted budget for 2009/10 the revised estimates come in at R49,388. The allocation in this year’s budget is R47,878 million. This means their is a variance of R1.5 million or a decline in the department’s budget of 3,06%.

The Department’s organisational structure is not fully populated and there are 52 vacant posts. This department is already starting to pay the price of over expenditure in other departments in the Province. It means that the work of this department is becoming marginalised. The work of this department is not fully appreciated or understood generally within government circles.

the DA believes that the Department should report to the committee on the impact that it is making on the reduction of crime in this Province. One of the key tasks of the Department is to ensure that the SAPS reduces serious violent crime by 7% annually. Although we receive regular reports on the activities of the department, it is unclear as to what the exact impact the that the department is making in this Province on the reduction of crime. For example – in spite of me raising the issue of the disbanding of specialised units in this Province, the impact of this has never ever been reported to the committee. Is it a case of not doing oversight in areas which the Department views as politically incorrect? Now the ANC has done an about-turn on the re-introduction of specialised units.

The DA welcomes the fact that the Department will be allocating R20 000 to each of the 27 cluster community police boards and R30 000 to the community police board. This is the first time that this funding has been made available and it will assist community police forums in operating more effectively.

However, the criteria for which this funding can be utilised as well as mechanisms for obtaining this funding need to be clearly spelled out so there are no misunderstandings.

With the advent of the world cup the department needs to pull out all stops to ensure that the SAPS operates at their best levels.

It was therefore disconcerting to read in the Herald on Tuesday 1st June that thousands of Eastern Cape police personnel have still not been told where they will be deployed during the world cup. The report further alleges that the police officials do not know the dates, times or roles they would play during the world cup. I would like an assurance from the MEC that there is a proper deployment plan in place and that members will be given adequate notice about where they will be stationed during the world cup. Why has it taken so long for members of the SAPS to be informed of where they are going?

Even more disconcerting is the fact that the nationwide security company with their 1800 guards who have been trained over the last 4 months, have been removed from the Nelson Mandela Bay World Cup stadium. This happened on Wednesday. They are now being replaced with 1 000 student constables. Can the MEC tell us as to why this security company was removed at the last minute? Have the SAPS constables that are taking over been fully trained in all aspects such as crowd control, high security entrance control and do they have all the necessary equipment. There must be some compelling reason as to why this has all happened at the last minute and members of this house and particularly members of the portfolio committee on safety and security deserve to be informed. All of us are passionate about making the world cup a success, particularly in our own Province. Let us stop the rumour mongering and keep the people properly informed.

On Tuesday the institute of security studies presented their research findings on the restructuring of the SAPS and in particular the disbanding of specialised units to the portfolio committee in parliament that deals with policing. The results show that the disbanding of the specialised units have had a severely negative impact on the fight against crime. The Democratic Alliance has opposed the disbanding of these units and has long been calling for the re-instatement as they are an essential element in the fight against crime. The closing down of the narcotics bureau has resulted in drug related crimes soaring. The closure of the crime combatting or public order policing units were shown to be a failure during the 2008 xenophobic violence when the military had to be brought in as the SAPS no longer had the expertise to cope.

An issue close to my heart is that of the closing down of the family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit. In a recent question which I posed to the MEC, she informed me that these units would be re-instated but could not give the exact date. The good news is that a total of 270 members will be deployed to the 27 SAPS clusters in this Province.

The disbanding in 2006 of the Specialised units in South Africa runs both contrary to international best practise and common sense. Nonetheless the ANC’s U-turn on this matter is welcomed and the re-introduction of the Family Violence, child protection sexual offences needs to be done as a matter of urgency.

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