Speech Notes: The Annual and Financial Oversight Report of the Department of Safety and Liaison

Bobby Stevenson

The latest crime statistics are cold comfort to the residents of the Eastern Cape who daily live in fear of the criminal element that stalks our communities and highlights the dire need for a complete overhaul of how SAPS operates as well as an honest and professional police service.

A bloody wave of violent crime continues to sweep through the Eastern Cape. 10 people are murdered every day in this province; and there are also 19 reported rapes a day.

The Eastern Cape has 5 of the top 30 stations in terms or murder in the country.

When it comes to attempted murders, the Gelvandale policing area in the gang ridden Northern Areas has top spot nationally with an increase of 17% from 225 to 265, while Bethelsdorp is 4th with a staggering increase of 51%, up from 133 to 201. This reflects the ongoing gang violence and the dire need for the new police station in the Bethelsdorp area, to be built as a matter of urgency.

I first raised the issue of the new police station in the Bethelsdorp area in 2013, and the SAPS committed to support the building of this station.

This year, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality under the then Mayor, Athol Trollip, donated the land and it has been rezoned for that purpose. This matter is now in the hands of the SAPS, and I call on the Premier and the MEC of Safety and Liaison to put maximum pressure on SAPS nationally to ensure that this police station is built.

Daily, people are being slaughtered in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth and the gang violence is spiraling out of control.

The second police station will add much needed resources to this community along with the reintroduction of the specialized units that were done away with by the then National Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi.

This fool hardy decision has cost this country dearly.

Why is it that when this mad decision was taken, the whole ANC turned a blind eye to it? At the time, and ever since then, I and my party have called for the reinstatement of specialized units.

We urge the MEC for Safety and Liaison, and the Premier, to demand that SAPS nationally bring back the specialized anti-gang unit to this province, as well as for the reinstatement of the specialized anti-drugs squad (old narcotics bureau).

We need the time frames clearly spelt out. People are dying on a daily basis.

You need to undo the huge harm that you have caused since the early 2000’s.

Not only is there a bloody wave of crime sweeping through our province, but also violent protests that have crippled some of our municipalities over the last few months. Over the last 3 years there have been 1745 service delivery protests in communities across the Eastern Cape.

Earlier on in the year the streets of Mthatha were a battle field once again with shops being looted, vehicles being set alight and general chaos. The same happened in the Sundays River Valley in Makana

Municipality, where fed up residents carried buckets of excrement to the town hall to highlight their unhappiness with the quality of water in the city. In Komga, angry residents burnt down the municipal building. We have also seen unrest in places like Queenstown, and closer to home in Stutterheim, the cause of which is a definite faction fight, and as a result of the political infighting within the ANC.

This violence has led to Stutterheim being turned into a war zone. People who are seen to be armed and wearing balaclavas have intimidated the businesses into closing, and buildings have been burnt down.

Private security has to escort workers to and from their homes to their places of work. In Buffalo City, we have also seen want and destruction in terms of damage to municipal infrastructure. Even this legislature has been severely crippled by the problems with the lack of water over the last week.

I am reminded of the memorable words of W.B. Yeats –

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”

Law enforcement agencies must stem the tide and act against people who take the law into their own hands and damage property.

What the Eastern Cape needs is change that ensures order prevails over chaos, and change that ensures safety and security prevails over anarchy.

We have one message to the SAPS when it comes to this kind of criminal action, LOCK THEM UP! LOCK THEM UP!

And while this is all going on in our province, the Department of Safety and Liaison, the lead department when it comes to promoting a climate of safety and security in our province has not had a permanent

Head of Department for a year and a half as the Premier is dilly dadding with regards to filling this post.

Failure to fill this position for a year and a half shows how out of touch the Premier is with the high crime rate in this province. This post became vacant on the 17th February last year (2017).

Part of the HOD’s responsibility is to ensure that the task force that the anti-gang task force has been set up to deal with violent crime in the Northern Areas of PE makes progress. But when we look at the indicators, they all seem to be going the other way.

WHAT WOULD A DA GOVERNMENT DO?
We would appoint a visionary leader at the helm of safety and Liaison. Someone who has the vision for a holistic solution to this problem, which includes mobilizing all relevant stakeholders including government departments, civil society, SAPS, the National Prosecution Service, and correctional services. Someone with a vision and drive that can bring the new technology into the Northern Areas that can help the fight against crime such as number plate recognition cameras, CCTV cameras, and drones.

Coupled to this lawlessness in the Eastern Cape is the hijacking of an alleged 100 buildings in the Mthatha area. Many of these buildings belonged to the ECDC, the Department of Public Works.
Since this matter is covered in the report, I would like the MEC to enlighten this house as to what progress has been made to gain control of these buildings, and how is it that the situation like this can unfold.

Where is the commitment and passion for law and order to deal decisively with criminal activity in this province and the economic terrorism?

The ANC must stop paying lip service to law and order. Take off the political gloves. Let me quote Winston Churchill –

“An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

As the Deputy Speaker warned us last night, they could even be coming for us.

It is only when we restore a climate of safety and security, which will create the right climate for economic growth, and job creation.

We have a choice between order and chaos, anarchy and safety.

Winston Churchill has a warning for us in regard to the unrest in our province –

“And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.”