DA proposes bold safety plan to protect women and children – John Steenhuisen

Specialised courts dealing only with crimes against women and children need to be established

DA proposes bold safety plan to protect women and children

20 April 2024

The Democratic Alliance (DA) today announced the latest element of the party’s manifesto offer to halve the rate of violent crime within a single term in office, should we be electd to national government after 29 May.

While the DA’s overall plan to reduce crime includes key elements such as devolving policing powers to competent local and provincial governments, professionalising the South African Police Service (SAPS), creating a new fully-independent Chapter 9 constitutional institution to combat priority crimes, and instituting rural safety units to combat farm murders, the explosion in violent crime directed at women in children in our country demands a dedicated response.

To deal with this scourge once and for all, if elected into government, the DA pledges to:

Establish specialised courts to deal with crimes committed against women and children, including abuse, kidnapping, trafficking, and murder;

Set up specialised units within the SAPS to focus on crimes affecting women, children and minors, bolstering investigative and forensic capacity to target the surge in kidnappings, trafficking, and murder; and

Urgently establish dedicated capacity and resources within the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to prioritise and fast track the prosecution of those facing charges of gender-based violence, and child abuse, trafficking, and murder.

But South Africans do not have to wait until after the election for action to be taken.

That is why I have already written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, challenging him to rise above politics and institute these common-sense measures even before Election Day.

This urgent action is required following a clear escalation in the intensity of child murders and kidnappings over the past year.

Just this past week, three-year-old Emilio Hutchinson was shot to death inside his parental home in Helenvale, in the northern areas of Nelson Mandela Bay. Like so many other young people who have been robbed of their future, little Emilio will never have the opportunity to go school, get a higher education and be a future leader of this country.

While the DA will do everything in our power to ensure #JusticeForEmilio, it is time to admit that South Africa’s crime crisis has spiralled out of control. We urgently need systemic solutions for this systemic crisis.

Nationally, between April and December 2023, 871 children were murdered, many of whom were caught in the crossfires of gang-related violence and crime that is on the increase in communities across the country.

Despite these shocking statistics, we have seen time and again how President Ramaphosa, Police Minister Bheki Cele and the ANC government simply turn a blind eye to GBV and crimes against children.

In fact, as part of his manipulation of the criminal justice system to create a cover to release Jacob Zuma from prison, Ramaphosa recently released over 16 000 criminals back onto the streets. This included nearly 4 000 thieves, over 2 500 housebreakers, 400 robbers, 20 arsonists, 17 kidnappers as well as six domestic abusers and rapists. Over 400 of these criminals have already committed further crimes against innocent people since their release.

During Ramaphosa’s tenure, the number of murders per day has skyrocketed, from 57 in 2018 to 84 by the end of 2023.

Unlike Ramaphosa and the ANC, who release violent criminals back onto the streets to terrorise communities, the DA puts criminals behind bars. In the DA-run Western Cape, we have pushed the boundaries of local policing by investing over R1.2 billion into the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP), which has put over 1 200 additional, well-trained law enforcement officers onto the streets. Since the programme was launched in 2020, LEAP has made over 27 000 arrests.

With the DA in national government, there is so much more we can do to combat GBV and violent crime against our children.

Built on the DA’s proven track record of good government and delivery, we can beat crime and put criminals behind bars.

To rescue South Africa from violent crime and to institute dedicated courts as well as policing and prosecuting units to combat GBV and crimes against our children, vote DA on 29 May.

Issued by John Steenhuisen, Leader of the Democratic Alliance, 20 April 2024