by Melinda Hattingh, MPL – DA Spokesperson of Transport, Safety & Liaison
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Date: 06 June 2018
Note to Editors: The following is an extract from a speech presented by Melinda Hattingh MPL at the annual Budget Vote Debate for the Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety & Liaison at the Frances Baard District Municipality chambers in Kimberley today.
Under oath, we are sworn to tell the whole truth. It is therefore disappointing that a department that works so closely with the long arm of the law, considers it okay to tell half truths.
Last year, during a portfolio committee meeting, I asked the Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety & Liaison about compliance levels of police stations with the Domestic Violence Act.
In short, I was told that stations were complying.
So imagine my surprise when I recently read an article, based on data from the 2016/2017 financial year, that revealed that 24 police stations in the Northern Cape were without victim friendly rooms.
Where is the compliance in that?
Hon. Speaker, this department has a lot of explaining to do.
Domestic violence is very serious and it is on the rise.
Domestic violence incidents that were attended to by police in the Northern Cape have more than doubled from 1130 incidents in 2014/2015 to 2355 incidents in 2016/2017. Arrests, however, have remained fairly constant, at between 18 and 20%.
This is not surprising, given that a more recent parliamentary reply from the Minister of Police, reveals that the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences units in the Northern Cape are facing a shortage of 35 vehicles, 1350 rape kits, 1 700 DNA collection kits, 21 landline telephones, 41 bulletproof vests, 1 100 J88 forms, 17 two-way mirrors, 17 pieces of recording equipment for interviews and 40 laptops.
These resources are crucial to ensure that justice is served.
In telling half truths, this department has therefore done victims of violence in the province a great disservice.
This raises serious doubts about the ability of this department to accurately monitor SAPS compliance at a provincial level.
Hon. Speaker, the value of the Civilian Oversight programme is thus questionable.
This programme should ultimately be making recommendations to SAPS to improve service delivery, based on its monitoring and evaluations. Instead, this programme merely acts as an extension of SAPS, defending SAPS instead of holding SAPS accountable.
It is not appropriate for this department to justify why the Platfontein community does not have a satellite police station. Rather, it is the responsibility of this department to lobby for better services.
Crime is out of control. Our young people are dying from drugs.
We are tired of hearing of the elusive Crime Prevention Strategy. We are tired of hearing about plans to make plans.
We want action.
Hon. Speaker, there are approximately 300 taxis with fraudulent licenses, driving around the Northern Cape.
We accept that this department has finally delegated licensing powers so that no person can, on their own, issue licenses anymore. This is long overdue. We also appreciate the fact that there is a related Hawks investigation on the go. This is very necessary.
However, we cannot accept that this department simply wants to assume the role of “Mr Nice Guy” by addressing this matter through a “consultation process”.
A fraudulent license is wrong. It’s wrong on the part of the licenser and it’s wrong on the part of the licensee. It’s not just half wrong.
We cannot allow fraudsters to create an imbalance in the taxi industry and threaten the livelihoods of legitimate taxi operators.
Unless this department stops compromising on the law, and starts taking decisive action, the Northern Cape will soon find itself in the midst of a taxi war.
Our roads are already a warzone, we don’t need more bloodshed.
Hon. Speaker, this department wants to reduce the number of fatalities on the provinces roads from 272 last year to 267 this year.
If the targeted reduction is achieved, just five lives will be spared.
The MEC recently told the portfolio committee that visibility in this department is very important and that people tend to misbehave when they don’t see traffic officers.
This causes me to wonder how many more lives could be saved if all weighbridges, that ultimately protect the condition of our roads, were fully operational?
It also causes me to wonder how many more lives would be spared if the province succeeded in employing 500 traffic officers, as opposed to the current 137, of whom only 106 are actually doing law enforcement.
The department mentioned that it had made a submission for the appointment of 300 traffic officers, or at least permission to reappoint traffic officers who had resigned or died, based on funded vacant posts, but that Treasury indicated that the department had no budget.
I suspect that this is another half-truth. In effect, during the portfolio committee meeting, it was said that there will be no intake of new traffic officers in the 2018/2019 financial year.
It is tragic, Hon Speaker, that road users in the province continue to pay with their lives for past mismanagement and corruption within this very department.
Having said this, I want to state that the DA is pleased that, after having exerted much pressure on this department, funds have finally been allocated for an independent investigation into the Wilcovert controversy.
This scandal involved R42 million, from a R60 million cash injection that was received from the Road Traffic Management Corporation. The money was never properly accounted for and, amongst other things, was used to procure furniture and donkey carts instead of facilitating road safety initiatives.
This isn’t the only legacy issue that continues to haunt this department.
The ten year lease of the Ocean Echo building, that was expressly condemned by the former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, costs the department R630 000 per month, or R8 million a year. It also remains under investigation by the Hawks.
Meanwhile, the effects of the disastrous intra-provincial airline, Phakalane Airways, also continue to be felt. For 2018/2019, this department experiences a budget reduction of R2,797 million as a recoup of funds previously allocated to the department for the Provincial Aviation project.
Hon. Speaker, given this department’s poor track record in managing projects, I only hope that the multi-million Boegoebaai project is able to achieve a smooth take off. However, given the prolonged planning of this initiative, and the involvement of former politicians, I have my reservations.
Hon. Speaker, this is a half baked department. The new MEC and his team urgently need to turn up the heat, or risk having 2018/2019 declared another flop.
The DA does not support Budget Vote 3.
Melinda Hattingh, MPL
DA Spokesperson of Transport, Safety & Liaison
082 494 6648
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387