Debate on “The Escalation in Violent Crimes in South Africa and Government’s Responsibility to Protect its Citizens Lives and their Property” by Cde Nomathemba Maseko-Jele

14 November 2019

Honourable Chairperson of the House,

Members of the National Assembly,

Fellow South Africans,

Good Afternoon.

We are gathered in this National Assembly, representing different political parties and constituencies which are made up of different races, classes, gender, backgrounds, religion, beliefs and ideologies. There are many things that attest to our diversity as a people and there are many things that tie us together. We are all affected by crime and we must all fight crime!.

Crime is a subject that should never be politicised. Fighting crime must be a collective effort. We must all get involved as a society in the fight against crime. There should be no spectators, we are all affected and therefore we must work together in the fight against crime in our country.

As a liberation movement and governing party, we have made strides in serving the people of this country and providing for a better life for all. We cannot shy away from the alarmingly high crime statistics, which shows that crime has escalated to areas in our society where we never experienced crime before. Places such as creches, schools, our churches, including in our workplaces.

Recently, we have witnessed the scourge of gender-based violence, sexual offence and femicide rising in our society. And this is a matter of great concern.

In our view, fighting against crime include addressing the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality that faces our society today. The triple challenges remains a major inhibitor and indeed, none of us can truly rest and be comfortable with the status quo.

Twenty-five years into democracy, in many ways, the legacy of apartheid still endures. The previously disadvantaged groups hold less assets, majority of them lack skills, and on average earn lower wages. This category is still more likely to be unemployed even in the near future because of the impact of the legacy of apartheid on our economy.

It is common cause that some in our society will always be uncomfortable when we remind them of the impact of the legacy of apartheid on modern day South Africa. This view assumes that the future has no relation with the past.

We are in full agreement with the argument that the state has the responsibility to protect the lives of our citizens and their assets. Equally, the society has the responsibility to work together with the government in the fight against crime.

Political parties, Government, business, NGOs, Faith Based Organizations, Traditional leaders, civil society and everyone has a role to play in fighting the scourge of crime in our communities. We need to applause the initiative by traditional leaders in Mpumalanga who in the last weekend joined hands with their communities in developing strategy in the fight against crime.

Understanding that people are their own liberators, in the early 1980s there had been a call from then ANC President Oliver Tambo that we should establish organs of people’s power. The ANC called on all South Africans to play an active role in shaping the country's collective destiny.

The ANC resolved that, “Through organs of people's power, such as ward committees, community policing forums, and schools, governing bodies, amongst others, the masses of our people are called upon to continue to be their own liberators." Again, we make this call for the strengthening of these organs of peoples power.

Crime prevention requires a People Orientated Problem Solving Policing Plan. An example of an initiative of such Plan is the Bambanani Initiative which operationalised the National Crime Prevention Strategy by integrating the police, intelligence, justice and the communities in combatting crime as well as the Operation O Kae Molao in Gauteng province. With these efforts, the reduction in crimes will be reduced in our communities.

Poverty has a strong spatial dimension in South Africa, a demonstration of the enduring legacy of apartheid. This persistent legacy of apartheid is confirmed by the latest Stats SA report which shows the rising levels of unemployment which is high amongst the historically disadvantaged groups.

The comprehensive approach to fight crime requires that we should all be concerned about idling young people in our society. Yes, there is no justification that poverty, unemployment and inequality should be blamed for high levels of crime. The argument we are advancing is that we need to deeply analyse the root cause of crime and therefore respond to it in a comprehensive manner.

Our concern is that it would seem there are some in our society who are not joining hands to address the challenges which faces us as a country. The emergence of narrow nationalism, which borders on the emphasis of race in our politics, the notion of Us and Them mentality, must be condemned by all of us. We have one south Africa, and we must all commit to the realisation of a South Africa that will truly belong to all who live in it black and white.

We would have thought that the FF+ in tabling this motion for debate, will lead a mobilising call for all South Africans to rally behind our national agenda of creating a better life for all.

We would have thought that FF+ will progressively suggest possible solutions on how to fight crime in our society.

Unfortunately we were wrong. The FF+ decided to go the easy way of blame game and finger pointing. For instance, in response to the high murder rates, the Freedom Front Plus is on record for calling for the death penalty as a solution to the challenges of crime in our society. This view does not only goes against the spirit of the Constitution but does not address the root cause of the challenges.

This approach unfortunately yield no results and does not take us anywhere.

We cannot just debate about the increase in crime rates. Nor can we simply fold our arms and blame government for everything.

A social contract is needed.

Our call is for all our people, civil society movement, Organs of Peoples’ Power and all stakeholders in society to join hands in the fight against crime in our society.

This call is extended to the  Freedom Front Plus and all political parties to play a role in the creation of decent job, skills development and educating the youth so as to deal with the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

There is a need for the Freedom Front Plus to come to the reality that we have one country, we have One destiny, and we need each other to build South Africa and the future of our children.

The Blame game bears no fruits!

There is no doubt that government bears the responsibility of ensuring that all people are safe as outlined in the National Development Plan, but surely this cannot be the responsibility of government alone.  

In closing, we call for the revival of our Souls and also God’s intervention.

Let humanity meets divinity, then we will get the solution!

I thank you!