ANC loots electricity for its birthday celebrations – mayor of Kgatelopele must pay up
18 May 2016
Note to Editors: The following debate was delivered by DA Spokesperson on Transport, Safety & Liaison, Melinda Hattingh (MPL), during a sitting of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature in Kimberley today.
Members of the House
The department has regressed from an unqualified to a qualified audit opinion in 2014/2015.
The department also exemplified poor financial management with the signing of the inflated 10-year lease agreement with Ocean Echo for its fancy, glass paneled sky-rise offices, which former MEC Martha Bartlett last year conceded was her biggest nightmare.
Millions of rands worth of unauthorized, irregular, as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure, as a result of the mismanagement of learner transport contracts and Phakalane Airways, also cast a shadow over the department’s integrity.
But the department really hit rock bottom when the ill-informed multi-million rand intra-provincial airline crashed earlier this year.
The newly appointed MEC, Hon. Pauline Williams, has much work ahead of her to turn this department around.
During the presentation on the department’s Annual Performance Plan, the Hon. Williams said “this department needs to pull up its socks”.
I want to say to the Hon. Williams that I appreciate your honest assessment of this department. And I sincerely hope that your actions will speak louder than your words.
First and foremost, this department has to change its approach from being merely output orientated, to actually becoming outcomes orientated.
I say this because performance of various mandates, from managing service delivery complaints against the police to monitoring compliance of the Domestic Violence Act, and even progress on the four key strategic infrastructure projects, is merely measured by the number of reports compiled on each of these issues.
Neither the quality nor the merits of these reports are factored into the APP. These reports also do not speak to the strategic outcomes that are meant to guide this department.
Let’s take the Civilian Oversight Programme as an example.
It is the department’s strategic objective to monitor and evaluate police performance and conduct and make recommendations to improve service delivery.
It is all good and well that the department plans to monitor and compile reports on 20 police stations. But then what?
The department needs to tell us how they are going to use the information in the reports to make recommendations to improve service delivery.
We also desperately need to see more innovation from this department.
Visits to police stations provide valuable information regarding issues of staffing and resource allocation. They also assist in monitoring the quality of the frontline service provided by SAPS. But such visits do little to determine the actual quality of policing.
The Western Cape has successfully implemented a unit, which they call the “Court Watching Briefs” unit. During 2015/2016 this unit forwarded reports to the Police Commissioner on more than 117 serious cases, from murder to rape, which were removed from the court rolls largely due to police inefficiencies.
To enhance the department’s performance, I propose that the department establishes a similar unit.
Hon. Speaker, we understand that this department has no operational authority over SAPS in the Northern Cape but it nevertheless remains the department’s responsibility to launch initiatives to help reduce crime, prevent crime and create safe environments for everyone in this province.
But initiatives to create a safer Northern Cape are few and far between. We therefore find ourselves in one of the most physically and sexually violent provinces in the entire country.
The department itself indicates that, after the payment of compensation of employees and contractual obligations, there is only R3,455 million left for the implementation of the Provincial Crime Prevention Strategy and Crime Prevention Programmes across the province. This is only a drop in the ocean when compared to what is needed but it is still not an excuse for the department to shy away from its core mandate of safety.
The department has to be more prudent with its finances. It has to reprioritize. It has to expand its formation of partnerships, and very importantly ensure that these partnerships are functional and working towards a common goal. It also has to maximize the outcomes of existing structures, such as Community Policing Forums and Neighbourhood Watches.
A recent study by STATS SA found that the majority of males are assaulted in the street. The report therefore recommends that greater attention should be paid to combating assault in public spaces. This is where it becomes important to have operational Neighbourhood Watches, who act as the eyes and ears of the police.
This is also where it becomes important to have well established and properly trained CPF’s who, amongst other things, are tasked with evaluating the performance of SAPS with regards to the patrolling of residential and business areas.
To improve the functionality of both Neighbourhood Watches and CPF’s, the department should develop a funding model to strengthen these bodies through the allocation of resources, equipment and training needs to enable citizens to become capable partners in safety.
After all, it costs community groups, like Wanya Tsotsi, money to patrol the streets like they do.
The department also has to become more strategic in its fight against crime and tackle the root cause of crime if it really wants to make a difference.
Just this week it was revealed that there are now 8,9 million jobless South Africans. In total, 6 million young South Africans do not have jobs. This is nearly half a million more than just three months ago.
The war against crime therefore cannot be fought in isolation of the socio-economic circumstances that this country and this province finds itself in.
Sol Plaatje municipality has been mentioned in a report by STATS SA as being a hotspot for both murder and sexual offences in South Africa. The same report highlights that a large percentage of these crimes occur in the presence of either alcohol or drugs.
In the Western Cape, the provincial liquor authority has been placed under the Department of Community Safety to ensure a reduction in the number of liquor outlets in the province. This bold move, which places the safety of communities first, is something that the provincial administration should consider.
Hon. Speaker, not only does substance abuse directly aggravate levels of violent crime, but also the incidence of traffic offences.
According to the most recent crime stats, there were as many as 3 527 incidents of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs in the Northern Cape from April 2014 to March 2015.
Furthermore, according to the provincial Health Department’s forensic report, a total of 459 people died in road accidents in the province over the same period.
By focusing more attention on programs that tackle drug and alcohol abuse, the department will also bring down the death toll on the Northern Cape’s roads.
Not all road accidents, however, are due to drugs and alcohol.
It is the strategic objective of the department to reduce road fatalities by providing visible law enforcement and road safety.
The high-turnover of traffic officials within the department, largely as a result of better salaries offered by municipalities, poses a threat to quality law enforcement and needs to be adequately addressed. A realistic retention strategy must be developed and implemented to ensure that traffic skills are retained by the department.
At the same time, the department needs to find a solution to the inadequacies found in the training system of traffic personnel, specifically the upgrading of traffic officers skills.
In this regard, the department should meet with relevant training institutions throughout the country with the aim of entering into service level agreements that will benefit the Northern Cape by securing relevant training opportunities for its traffic officers.
On the matter of road safety, I also wish to highlight the need for the department to take a harder stance against un-roadworthy vehicles.
According to the department, learner transport roadworthiness inspections from 23 November to 10 December 2015 exposed a number of operators who were still utilizing un-roadworthy vehicles. Those who were found to have un-roadworthy vehicles, were given fourteen days to fix their vehicles before the department threatened to look for alternative operators.
This is not good enough.
Too often unsafe vehicles, coupled with unsafe drivers, have resulted in deadly collisions on our roads which could have been avoided had the vehicles been checked before embarking on various trips.
I propose a zero-tolerance approach to un-roadworthy vehicles and the immediate impoundment thereof regardless of whether they are private, subsidized or contracted vehicles providing learner or public transport.
Service providers responsible for learner and public transport should also be mandated to pass roadworthy tests at least every twelve months. And this must be enforced by the department.
Hon. Speaker, there can be no half-hearted attempt to create a safe environment and a safe transport system in the Northern Cape. It’s either safe or it’s not – it’s all or nothing.
I hope MEC Williams will give it her all so that come Budget 2017/2018, we can see visible change in the Department of Transport, Safety & Liaison.
Spokesperson on Roads and Public Works
082 494 6648
Shelley de Wit
082 847 1387