The following remarks were delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, in Johannesburg. Maimane was joined by representatives from DA-led Gauteng governments, which included Tshwane Mayor, Stevens Mokgalapa, Midvaal Mayor, Bongani Baloyi, and Johannesburg MMC for Finance, Funzi Ngobeni (o.b.o Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba).
Fellow South Africans
We are today a nation in mourning.
The news yesterday of the brutal and calculated rape and murder of 19-year-old Uyinene Mrwetyana by a civil servant employed by the state has shocked the collective conscience of our nation. A young girl was subjected to such barbaric and inhumane treatment and had her life cut short while performing a regular errand such as entering a Post Office.
Just this past week, 14-year-old Janika Mallo was found dead in her grandmother’s back yard after being raped and murdered. And boxing champion Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels, was murdered by her boyfriend – a SAPS employee entrusted to protect citizens.
On behalf of the DA, I extend my most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of these young women whose lives were taken by cruelty and evil beyond comprehension.
These young women were not the first victims of the violence against women that is so prevalent in our society. We’ve been exposed to similar tragedies. From Courtney Peters to Karabo Mokoena, from Valencia Farmer to Meghan Cremer. These are daughters of our nation who ought to be protected from harm, not preyed upon.
The sad reality is that unless swift action is taken, these young women won’t be the last victims of such crimes. Official statistics tell us that last year alone, almost 40 000 people were raped in South Africa – the overwhelming majority being women. That’s 109 people raped per day, and those are only the victims who decide to report the crime.
We need urgent, clear and decisive action and we cannot wait a moment longer. This goes much further than putting the perpetrators of such heinous acts in jail. It requires addressing the root causes of this social and moral decay and bold leadership making hard, unpopular but effective decisions.
I have just moments ago finished a scheduled meeting with the leadership of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI). Even within the business community, the sentiment is clear: South Africans are scared and lack real hope for the future.
Our businesses are shutting down and struggling to create jobs, our young girls are being raped and murdered, and drugs and gangsterism are stealing our young people’s future. South Africans are crying out for leadership in action.
We are seeing economic and social collapse in action, and the widespread violent protests, looting, destruction of property and general lawlessness which has taken place over the past weeks and months is evidence of this.
This civil unrest reached its peak yesterday where the City of Johannesburg, the City of Tshwane, and large parts of the City of Ekurhuleni were under siege by violent protest action. In this light, we condemn this action in the strongest terms possible and call for the restoration of law and order. Those caught breaking the law must be arrested and prosecuted, and we welcome the arrests already made. But more is required.
Therefore, today we call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to come out of hiding and break his silence on the unfolding social and economic crises. Ramaphosa was elected to lead, and each day he remains silent, the situation deteriorates even further.
We call on the President to at once:
- Oversee the accelerated operation of the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) in every area affected by protests and lawlessness. The NATJOINTS is empowered to coordinate all security and law enforcement operations throughout the country and is best placed to first anticipate and if necessary, to respond timeously to incidents of criminality and disorder when they occur;
- Instruct the urgent deployment of Public Order Policing to all volatile areas within Gauteng and surrounds;
- Appear before Parliament to make an urgent statement in the House about what is being done to renew the social contract between the state and citizens given the complete breakdown in trust and social order;
- Announce an immediate cut to spending on VIP protection for politicians. The VIP protection budget allocation to each individual is approximately R10 million per year, with Ramaphosa’s Cabinet costing R631 million per year in VIP protection. This money must be redirected to capacitating law enforcement agencies to combat and prevent crime; and
- Establish a special task team to review the systems and processes of law enforcement officials and agencies, the SAPS, and the criminal justice system, with a focus on how to better predict and prevent violent crimes against women.
I will also be seeking an urgent update from the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, on what progress, if any, has been made in implementing the findings of Parliament’s Ad Hoc Joint Committee on Probing Violence against Foreign Nationals. This report was finalised and adopted by Parliament on 18 November 2015 – almost four years ago.
It is common cause that a significant contributor to our social ills is SAs collapsing economy. Protests, violence and looting are often caused and exacerbated by vast inequality, joblessness, and economic exclusion faced by millions across our country. With over 10 million South Africans unemployed, and half the nation living below the poverty line – we have run out of “extra time”. It’s now or never.
If we don’t fix our economy we will not fix our broken society. Therefore, it is high time our political differences are put aside as we work together across party lines in order to implement one economic plan that benefits all South Africans.
This task begins on Thursday, when Parliament will hold an urgent debate of public importance on South Africa’s jobs crisis following my request. This debate comes at a time when politicians in Parliament need to put the people first and put their words into action. If we don’t deal urgently and decisively with the underlying causes of the upfolding economic and social collapse engulfing our nation, we will have no country left to build.
In closing, I would like to call on every church, mosque, synagogue – all religious leaders and South Africans of faith to continuously pray for our nation and its leadership.
I thank you.