House Chairperson, I should say that we should never generalise, particularly on issues where a police officer refused to take an action, and make it seem like it is the case with the South African Police Services. We agree with hon Groenewald that there might be instances where you have police officers who behave in manner that is unacceptable, and in such cases we have taken decisive actions.
As the ANC-led government we remain sternly committed to the realisation of a better life for all as espoused in the Freedom Charter and enshrined in our Constitution. This commitment includes the combating and prevention of all forms of crime to ensure that we all experience a crime free South Africa, where our citizens and everyone
within our borders live without fear of being attacked or becoming victims of criminality.
It is our primary responsibility and obligation to ensure that our citizens, especially women, children and all other vulnerable groups enjoy all human rights and have access to justice in accordance with our founding values as dictated by our Constitution.
House Chairperson, the persistent escalation in violent crimes is cause for concern to us as the governing party and particularly as the Department of Police because we are aware that violent crime is one of the worst forms of human rights violations within our society, and continues to prevent our people from living dignified lives free from fear.
Ladies and gentlemen, in September this year, the Minster released the latest crime statistics, which to us are a mechanism to assess the progress and gains made in pursuit of a crime free society that we all aspire to realise.
Needless to say these statistics painted a rather gloomy picture in relation to violent crimes which threatens to reverse the gains we've made in our fight against crime in general. From these statistics, we have painfully noted the increase in all contact crime categories, especially the incidents of sexual offences, common assault and murder.
This untenable situation has given credence and impetus to the President's call that we need to put every effort towards halving violent crimes within the next decade. As the police we are determined to turn the tide within a shorter period than a decade and we are therefore ensuring that considerable resources and operational strategies are channelled towards achieving this target.
In gearing ourselves to tackle this enormous challenge, we have acknowledged that high levels of crime, especially violent crimes pose a serious threat to our democracy. Allowing crime to continue unabated will inevitably result in the deprivation of the rights and dignity of our people, and will pose a threat to peaceful
resolution of differences and rightful participation of all in the democratic process.
We are also consciously aware that crime casts fear into the hearts of South Africans from all backgrounds and prevents them from taking their rightful place in the development and growth of our country. It denies our people from communicating with one another freely, and from engaging in economic activity.
Crime also prevents entrepreneurs and investors from taking advantage of the opportunities which our country offers. The rights and freedom which the Constitution entrenches are threatened every time a citizen becomes a victim of crime. Hence we are this determined to turn the tide against crime.
House Chairperson, we have analysed and debated these statistics mainly to determine the crime trends in order for us to design the most suitable interventions to decisively deal with crime in general and violent crime in particular. To this effect, in our budget vote speech, the Minister made several announcements on how the
department, in partnership with the Justice and Crime Prevention Cluster, intends to turn the tide against crime.
Crime prevention is a national priority and everyone must make his or her own contribution. This applies not only to the Cabinet and the departments concerned with security and justice, but also to all other national departments which are required to make a contribution to crime prevention including provinces, municipalities and society in general.
We have therefore developed our crime prevention strategy and have premised it on the theme "Creating a safe and secure, crime free environment that is conducive for social and economic stability, supporting a better life for all".
This theme underpins the key role that SAPS has to play, within the broader context of the Justice and Crime Prevention Cluster, in enabling the various initiatives of government to be achieved. We are registering good progress in ensuring that SAPS aligns its strategic
initiatives with those of government, thereby creating an environment for these initiatives to develop and flourish to the benefit of all South Africans.
The South African Police Service has further developed priorities to drive the strategy mentioned above. These priorities have both the internal and external focus. The internal priorities focus on enhancing police safety, mainly to significantly reduce the number of police officers killed on and off duty as well as the improvement of safety measures at police stations.
The transformation of SAPS has also been prioritised by the Minister, including the comprehensive addressing of the recommendations which emanated from the Farlam Commission. These include the cascading of resources to the local level, thereby streamlining the SAPS' top-heavy organisational structure whereby command and control will be enhanced as well as the improvement of the SAPS' resource base at police stations.
Our external priorities include the unification of the various policing agencies in the country into a single
police service which will ensure the optimal co- ordination of policing activities and deployment of resources from a single point of authority.
In addition, the Minister has prioritised the combating of specific crimes, including crimes against women and children, crimes impacting on the banking industry and organised crime. To give effect to these priorities, five key operational dimensions have been introduced, including:
The stamping or asserting of the authority of the state; the promotion of multidisciplinary, inter-departmental cooperation; the modernisation of the Criminal Justice System; the investigation of priority crime, which is directly associated with mandate of the Directorate for Priority Crime investigation; the renewal of crime intelligence capacity, in support of proactive and reactive policing; and the establishment of a collaborative and consultative approach to policing, which will be centred on the formation of a community- centred approach to policing.
House Chairperson, the rural safety is also a priority to us. To this effect we have developed the Rural Safety Strategy which strives to address rural safety as an integrated day-to-day policing approach by creating a safe and secure rural environment.
This strategy comprises of, amongst others, a farm safety plan designed for farms to ensure a collective rapid response between stakeholders to address all safety and security issues and incidents that affect the agricultural community.
The SAPS' partnership with Transvaal Agricultural Union of South Africa also strives to ensure the safety and security of famers in a sustainable manner on the land they work. [Time expired.] Thank you, House Chairperson. [Applause.]