The following remarks were made by DA Parliamentary Leader John Steenhuisen MP in Ward 82, Tafelsig, Cape Town on 12 November 2019:
My fellow South Africans
Tomorrow we need to keep Ward 82 here in Tafelsig blue. Every single by-election is a chance to keep making progress under a DA local government. We have come too far and achieved too much to give up any ground now.
While some people have been trying to write us off, the DA is having none of it. We are here, we are growing and we will continue winning. Our most recent by-election results in both KZN and the Eastern Cape show a party moving in the right direction. As a party, we are going through a process of rejuvenation. We are reconnecting with our voters and we are re-confirming our commitment to delivering the best services in the country.
It is a fact that people are better off where the DA governs. They have better access to electricity, water and sanitation. They have a better chance of finishing matric, and leaving with an education they can use. They have a better chance of living near quality healthcare and they have a better chance of finding work. Those are all facts backed up by evidence.
These are the things we need to keep fighting for in every election and by-election, and we can never become complacent. And that’s why we are here in your community today, fighting for the issues that matter to you.
I don’t need to tell you that one of the biggest challenges facing our society is the scourge of violent crime, and particularly the constant threat of violence towards women in our communities. I know what this does to a community like yours, where women live in daily fear of being attacked, raped and murdered.
We all spoke about this at great length two and a half months ago, when the horrific murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana put gender-based violence in the national spotlight. But after all the marches were done and the promises of action started to fade from memory, not much has changed. We still read, every day, of women and children who are brutalised across the country.
As we embark on this 16 Days of Activism campaign, we need to make it clear: No more talk. It is time for strong and decisive action.
The biggest deterrent to gender-based violence is the prospect of being caught, prosecuted and sent to jail. This means we have to train and resource our police, and it means we have to fix our criminal justice system. Two months ago the DA put forward a list of proposals that will do just this.
This includes replacing the 20 year-old Domestic Violence Act and the Protection from Harassment Act with a single piece of legislation that is better suited to dealing with the issue of gender-based violence. The DA’s proposed Domestic Violence Bill will use language that includes all forms of abuse, and the substantive parts will be written in regular non-legal English so that everyone can understand it. It will deal with how to apply for and enforce court protection orders, and it will call for an online register of these court orders so that this information can instantly be shared and accessed across the country.
Our proposal also speaks to the issues at SAPS, and how we can turn them into a professional and well-resourced crime fighting force. A big part of this is placing SAPS under the control of provincial governments. Because under national government, it simply doesn’t work.
Currently the DA provincial government here in the Western Cape has no control over SAPS in the province, and is left at the mercy of an ANC national government that continues to under-resource stations here. This effectively plays politics with the lives of ordinary citizens. We welcome the recent announcement by COGTA Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, that her department is considering amendments to the Municipal Structures Act in order to devolve more power to local governments when it comes to safety – as well as rail and energy. This needs to be put into action and cannot just remain more empty words.
Then we also need to look at the budgets and reassess the spending priorities. It cannot be that there are 81 police officers looking after one VIP, while many communities here in the Western Cape have only one SAPS officer for every 600 or 700 citizens. That has to change. It also cannot be that government spends R350 per day to keep an inmate in prison, but only R70 per day to keep a woman safe in a shelter. Those priorities are simply not right.
Among the other things the DA has called for in order to better protect women from violent crime is an increase in detectives trained to deal with traumatised victims, as well as victim-friendly rooms at SAPS stations. We have also called for the acceleration of the rollout of dedicated sexual offenses courts to all areas of the country.
The best way for us to continue this fight, is with your support. If you lend us your vote, you make our voice stronger where it matters, whether this is in Parliament, in the provincial government or here in the Metro. Which is why tomorrow’s by-election is so critical.
Help us in our fight for a safer Cape Town and a safer Tafelsig. Come out in your numbers tomorrow and give the DA the mandate to speak for this community on the issues that matter most to you.