Source: Inkatha Freedom Party
Title: IFP: Gwala: Address by the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, at KZN budget debate, Pietermaritzburg
There has been a changeover in the position of the department’s Head of Department which, viewed alongside a similar changeover at Transport, which is headed by the same MEC, is somewhat suspicious. Within a provincial government that does not ordinarily hold its heads of department to account for the contraventions of the PFMA, such as incurring wasteful expenditure on their watch, such a step begs some explanation.
We would like to establish whether these changes are isolated personnel issues or whether they are part of the endless restructuring of the police service which only serves to compound its challenges and cause commotion. Another aspect of such changes is the redeployment of specialist units which, as we have long contended, points to a lack of understanding and commitment on the part of the Department of Community Safety and Liaison and its national counterpart.
Despite all restructuring in this department, its record in the fight against crime remains mixed at best. Although we welcome the increased police visibility in some areas of KwaZulu-Natal, in many others victims of crime continue to have little or no recourse to assistance from the state against perpetrators of crime.
The IFP has been particularly perturbed by the media reports in recent days about one third of emergency telephone lines in this province not being answered. According to an independent research, about 63 percent of police stations did answer the test call, but in 35 percent of the cases, the police could not be reached. This uncalled for situation seems to be endemic across KwaZulu-Natal, with urban and rural police stations faring equally badly.
The IFP has been equally distressed by findings from vehicle tracking and insurance companies which claim that car hijackings are on the rise in KwaZulu-Natal, with one such company stating that there has been a massive 35 percent increase in hijackings in the province over the period June 2011 to April 2012. Most of the stolen vehicles were suspected of being taken across our borders. The chances of recovery of such vehicles are virtually non-existent.
These latest concerns join the long list of well-documented challenges within the SAPS, such as the lack of ongoing training, shortages of equipment, weapons and vehicles, and an overall absence of qualified and experienced station management. While most of these challenges can be attributed to underfunding, some are the result of poor management. When such management challenges go unresolved for too long, one naturally begins to question the quality of the political leadership behind the management structures.
Then there are going concerns about missing police firearms which keep reappearing in the news regularly. Most worryingly, there appears to be no immediate solution to any of these challenges. Turnaround strategies to address these issues come and go but problems remain. Sometimes problems get worse, as evidenced by crime statistics for certain categories of crime, despite increasing investment of the public funds into their resolution.
The IFP’s alternative budget framework, which mirrors the budget before us today, proposes a targeted approach to improving detective services by ensuring that each police station has a fully equipped detective unit determined by the size of the community it serves.
Adequate allocations must be made to ensure that qualified individuals are attracted and retained by the SAPS and that they have the appropriate equipment and resources to discharge their duties. Without appropriate tools of trade, the failure of our police personnel to serve their communities will continue to be felt at the frontline of service delivery.
The department must also implement systems that monitor and evaluate police performance, efficiency
and effectiveness and improve civilian oversight of law enfor the challenges in the SAPS are due to low morale of its personnel. The Honourable MEC is therefore expected not only to lead, but also to inspire.
One immediate challenge is the establishment of a provincial secretariat in terms of the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act and the budgetary implications for the implementation of this Act over the MTEF period starting in the 2012/2013 financial year. We will be monitoring this process very closely and we expect the Honourable MEC to provide this Legislature with regular progress reports in this regard.
I thank you.