SPEECH NOTES – BOBBY STEVENSON, MPL, LEGISLATURE LEADER, SPEAKING ON THE BUDGET VOTE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF SAFETY AND SECURITY IN THE BHISHO LEGISLATURE

In the Honourable MEC’s policy speech, she stated “It cannot be business as usual, no, no, no”. I concur with these words of the MEC. However, there needs to be a major shift in the approach taken by the Department to the oversight of the South African Police Services. We need much more vigorous oversight by the Department where they exercise their constitutional powers which, inter alia, include overseeing the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service, monitoring police conduct and assessing the effectiveness of visible policing.

This department really needs to assert its authority over the SAPS and ensure that crime levels in this province are reduced.

If one examines the operational plan of the Department, you can see it has a series of activities. However, what we are unable to assess as a committee is the impact that these activities are having on improving safety and security in the Province. The outcome of these activities should be a more effective and efficient Eastern Cape SAPS, which will result in a reduction in the crime rate. The overall impact is safer communities.

When one analyses the Department’s activities it is difficult to pin down the exact outcomes and impact that is has on communities. This needs to change this year. We say so because a very serious impediment to economic growth is crime, especially violent crime. Not only does it deter investment and cost jobs, but it violates people’s rights to live without fear.

We, as this House, need to ensure that we obtain maximum value for the budget that we provide to the Department of Safety and Liaison. In turn, we need to ensure that the department ensures that the SAPS, which costs the taxpayer R160 million a day, is providing the level of service to this province that all communities deserve.

To be tough on crime, this Department needs to be tough on the SAPS and we as a committee want to see the reports that emanate from oversight visits and unannounced visits.

In all my years on this committee, I have yet to see a critical report of the conduct of the SAPS in this province. Yet we all know that crime is still at unacceptably high levels. Being tough on crime is one thing – but we also need to be tough on the causes of crime. One of the areas which the Department intends to focus on during the course of the coming year is that of the clamping down on illegal taverns. There is a strong correlation between the misuse of alcohol and crime levels. Research has shown that people under the influence account for 25% of weapons-related offences, 22% of rapes, 17% of murders, 14% of assault cases, 22% of housebreaking cases and 10% of robberies. A shocking 49% of family violence cases are sparked by alcohol.

Between 57% and 60% of all drivers killed in South Africa every year lose their lives directly or indirectly as a result of drunken driving.

Every day 130 South Africans die because of alcohol. South Africa holds the global record for the highest number of people subjected to alcohol-related harm.

Alcohol abuse costs the economy an estimated R38 billion per year through violence, crime, HIV, absenteeism, low productivity and incarceration.

Research also indicates that 69% of abused women say alcohol and drugs are the main cause of violence. We need a massive clampdown on illegal shebeens in this province. We also need to ensure that the Department involves the whole of society to clamp down on the misuse of alcohol. This will involve the churches, the liquor board, the SAPS and other organs of civil society.

I welcome the fact that the department is going to spend over R327 000 on researching the relationship between alcohol and crime.

A particular area of focus needs to be the Cacadu District Municipality. This is the District Municipality with the highest murder rate in the country according to the South African Institute of Race Relations, which bases its figures on the 2008/9 crime statistics. Of all the districts in our province, including the Nelson Mandela Metro, it has the highest rate of all sexual offenses as well as drug-related crime. The Department, as a matter of urgency, needs to research the relationship between alcohol and the high crime rate in the province in general, particularly in this district.

I call on the Department to work with the SAPS and to pull out all stops to clamp down on alcohol abuse in this province.