Law & Order: ActionSA’s Vision for A Safer South Africa

Where humans exist side by side, there has always been an accepted code or rules that govern their co-existence. No society can thrive in a lawless environment. That distinguishes us as human beings from other creation. Law is the rules set by society to govern and regulate the behaviour of citizens toward each other and to protect the rights and privileges of all. 

Order is the institutions set up by the State to monitor, uphold and enforce adherence to the law. The Police Services, Courts, Correctional Services, Social Services, Immigration Services, etc are such institutions. Laws can be passed to regulate our behaviour, yet without the enforcement of order, it will amount to naught. Thomas Hobbes, the English Philosopher, famously said that life without government would be ‘Nasty, brutish and short”. Sadly, this has become a reality for many South Africans.

South Africa comes from a painful past, where the Policing and other security Services, were largely used in the protection of the abusive Apartheid State. The scar of that oppressive regime still remains with us up until today. Incidents such as the Marikana Massacre, the murder of Andries Tetane, and other related incidents of police brutality continues to erode our confidence in the Police Services. Most South Africans feel that we are losing the fight against crime.

Crime Summits have come and gone, but there has been a lack of political will to implement the policies experts have told the government will work. However, when there is political will and urgency, like in the run up and preparation to the 2010 World cup, the Police and Security Services can reduce crime dramatically, through the establishment of priority courts and through speedy successful prosecutions get criminals behind bars within days.

Sadly, government institutions responsible for maintaining law and law have been ravaged by corruption and hollowed out of the capacity to address criminality. South Africa now rates among the very top countries when it comes to crime. South Africa is the World’s Murder Capital. Today, South Africa is scorned as another failed State.

South Africa faces a myriad of challenges when it comes to the enforcement of law and order and more specifically the combatting of crime. The police service is in a shambles, being poorly led, poorly trained and severely under resourced.

Law Enforcement services are held accountable to get crime under control, yet they cannot control the factors that cause crime to proliferate in society, factors such as the poor state of our economy, which leads to the high unemployment rate (highest in the world). Unemployment leads to many other socio-economic factors that contributes to lawlessness, factors such as drug and alcohol abuse, gender-based violence human trafficking, the list goes on.

Corruption in the public and private sectors which goes unchecked, due to political interference is robbing our people of opportunities and a chance at a better future. Corrupt Politicians are the number one enemy of Society.

As ActionSA we are serious about Fixing our South Africa. We understand that without effectively being able maintain Law and Order, we will not succeed in restoring investor confidence in SA. We must ensure a strong message is sent out to Society, that crime does not pay. Our priority is to strengthen the Institutions tasked with the maintenance of law and order. Crime prevention should be our priority and expedient successful detection, arrests and prosecutions of criminal cases, must become the order of the day. Crime Syndicates must be eradicated as organised crime is a very serious and real threat to our State of security.

At this conference we put forth a workable policy, derived from the input received from experts in the fields of Law and Order and from ordinary citizens.

When we speak of political will and the need for strong leadership, one is reminded immediately of Herman Mashaba, during his tenure as Mayor, who in just 3 years was able to hire 1500 more JMPD officers. Johannesburg was safer for it. However, we need SAPS to come along as well. South Africa is desperately lacking police officers, which is why we are saying we need at least 90 000 more well trained police officers patrolling our communities, with enough vehicles and other resources to come out when we call on them.

South Africa can’t rely purely on ordinary police officers when cartels and organised crime have become so entrenched into the South African state, which is why ActionSA is also adamant that we need specialised units to deal specifically with anti-gangsterism, financial crimes, organised crime, and economic sabotage. There has to be adequate resourcing of the SAPS specialised Special task Force to enable it to deal with sophisticated criminals.

As ActionSA, we believe firmly that South Africans are capable, resilient and should be a key part of the solution against crime. Which is why our draft policy says that we need to crack down on illegal firearms, but also make it easier for law-abiding citizens to obtain a firearm legally. We cannot rely only on the state to protect our families and communities, which is why citizens should be able to use a firearm to stand your ground and defend your home and your family against intruders.

It is time to take a harsher stance on criminals after they have been prosecuted as well. Our communities are under siege from hardened criminals and syndicates who have no regard for human life or dignity, yet our penal laws favour these very criminals and do little to deter their actions. This is why ActionSA advocates for harsher penalties for violent crime, murder, rape, human trafficking and armed robbery. We are also against violent criminals being given the right to vote in prison after they have proven that they are unable to make valuable contributions to society.

Let’s rather put prisoners to work. Prison should not be a place where you receive a free meal and education, but a place where you can be rehabilitated and give back to society what you took. This is why prisoners should become part of a labour force that reinvigorates public work programmes that fixes crumbling infrastructure and cleans up our communities.

We all know that corruption cases carry on for years without being finalised. It is clear that our legal system needs new classifications to deal specifically with corruption, by establishing a Contravention of Ethics Act that will entrench ethical behaviour into the legal system. We need to make the abuse of political influence a criminal offence, which is why our public institutions have been looted and hollowed out by cadres and corrupt politicians.