Election 2024: Which political party has a better plan in fighting corruption, addressing your safety and security concerns?

IOL interviewed leaders of different political parties vying for the May 29 polls, to hear their plans in ensuring safety and security within South African communities. Pictures: IOL

IOL interviewed leaders of different political parties vying for the May 29 polls, to hear their plans in ensuring safety and security within South African communities. Pictures: IOL

Published Apr 14, 2024


Next month millions of registered South Africans will participate in the 2024 general elections, which some political pundits have called the “most contested” while others have called the “most important” elections since 1994.

In February, President Cyril Ramaphosa's announced that the 2024 general elections will be held on May 29, paving the way for the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to pull out all the stops in the intensification of preparations for election day.

Days ago, the country’s more than 50 political parties contesting the national elections pledged to uphold the law and the rules governing the hosting of free and fair elections.

Campaigning for hotly-contested elections is in full swing, with political parties’ leaders, officials and supporters criss-crossing the length and breadth of South Africa, knocking on many doors in cities, towns, villages and informal settlements begging for votes.

Safety and security has been a concern amongst voters in South Africa, as the country prepares for votes next month. File Picture: Photographer: Leon Lestrade / Independent Newspapers.

Safety and security have been a major selling point on most of the political parties’ manifestos – with promises of secure borders, increased police visibility, a tougher judiciary supported by independent crime-fighting institutions and many other promises have been bandied to the electorate who are this time spoilt for choice.

The ballot paper will this time be the longest which presents the voter with the multiple choices to select public representatives at national and provincial level.

While the political pot is brewing, the elephant in the room is the country’s runaway crime levels which have torn apart families, and worsened the living conditions of the populace, as reports often surface of public funds being embezzled.

A close analysis of the crime statistics in South Africa shows that violent crime, including murder, has become a part and parcel of the everyday life.

In February, Police Minister Bheki Cele released alarming crime statistics for the third quarter of the financial year 2023/24, showing that communities across South Africa are under siege from violent criminals. At the time, IOL reported that the crime statistics show that there were nearly 8,000 brutal murders in the last three months of 2023, yet only 1,500 people were found guilty.

Police Minister Bheki Cele. File Picture

The crime statistics released in February were recorded at all South African Police Service’s (SAPS) 1,163 police stations in the period between October 1 2023 to December 31 2023.

Between October and December last year, Cele revealed that more than 7,700 people had been murdered, which means a person was killed every 20 minutes, on average, during that period in South Africa.

Like most South Africans, opposition parties received the latest statistics with much shock and disbelief, calling on the government to implement urgent steps to ensure that all people living in the country are safe.

As the election fever heats up, IOL reached out to different political parties vying for the electorate’s hearts in the polls, to gauge their feelings on the crime and security topics, and more importantly to get an appraisal on the politicians offering to ensure that by June – if voters buy into the manifestos – South Africa will be a safer place to live in.

Millions of South Africans will cast their votes on May 29. File Picture

First up, the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said one of its key priorities in the ongoing election campaign is to halve the rate of violent crime, including murder, attempted murder, and gender-based violence.

“The national government’s inability to reduce crime cannot be solely attributed to socio-economic factors. The government continues to cling to the idea of a centralised national police force, while the DA believes in a decentralised, locally accountable police force,” DA’s Head of Policy and Member of Parliament, Mat Cuthbert told IOL.

DA’s Head of Policy and Member of Parliament, Mat Cuthbert. Picture: Supplied

“This will bring law enforcement closer to the ground and allow for localised policing strategies tailored to the unique challenges within different communities,” he said.

“Over the past three decades, the government has failed to establish an effective South African Police Service (SAPS) due to a lack of political leadership and the prevalence of political interference in SAPS, resulting in cadre deployment, the abuse of the police service to advance factional political interests, race-based policies, and weak oversight.”

The DA emphasised that violent crime bedevilling South Africa, particularly murder, attempted murder, and gender-based violence has the biggest impact on the safety and security of citizens and requires urgent intervention.

On the other hand, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) led by General Bantu Holomisa said it recognised that crime was a pressing issue facing South Africa.

“We are deeply committed to implement effective strategies to combat it. Our approach to address runaway crime stems from understanding the multifaceted problems plaguing our nation,” Yongama Zigebe, Secretary-General of UDM spoke to IOL.

“In canvassing for votes within communities, we promise the electorate a robust crime-fighting strategy that encompasses various measures,” he said.

Yongama Zigebe, Secretary-General of United Democratic Movement (UDM). Picture: Supplied

“Firstly, we advocate for community policing initiatives, fostering partnerships between law enforcement agencies and local communities to enhance crime prevention efforts. Empowering communities to take ownership of their safety is crucial in combating crime effectively.”

Additionally, the UDM prioritises the reform and strengthening of the SAPS.

“We believe that investing in training, resources, and technology for law enforcement officers is essential to improving their effectiveness in combating crime. Furthermore, we advocate for the de-politicisation of the SAPS to ensure its impartiality and professionalism in serving all citizens,” said Zigebe.

“From our perspective, the SAPS is failing to arrest runaway crime due to a combination of factors, including inadequate resources, poor leadership, and corruption within the institution. The politicisation of law enforcement agencies has also undermined their ability to perform their duties effectively, resulting in a lack of trust and cooperation from the public.”

In terms of priority crimes in South Africa, Zigebe said the UDM identifies violent crimes such as murder, rape, and assault as urgent areas that require immediate attention.

General Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement. File Picture Bongani Mbatha/Independent Media

“These crimes not only pose a significant threat to the safety and security of individuals but also contribute to the erosion of trust within communities. By prioritizing the reduction of violent crimes, we aim to restore confidence in the criminal justice system and create safer environments for all South Africans,” he said.

“We remain committed to working tirelessly to address the root causes of crime and implement sustainable solutions that will make our communities safer and more secure.”

New kid on the block, Xiluva political party led by charismatic Bongani Baloyi highlighted that rampant crime across South Africa should be looked at with the context of biting challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment ravaging the country.

“When someone commits a crime, it is primarily as a consequence of socio-economic situation. Someone is hungry, there is no economic opportunity and they decide to do something. We are saying, when you look at the value-chain of crime, you must first with dealing with unemployment, poverty and inequality. We must have programmes to give people a path, reduce the high number of unemployment and from a government point of view – create opportunities,” Baloyi told IOL in an interview.

“Our economic policy speaks mainly on how we resolve the situation but our point of departure when we speak about crime is in relation with socio-economic situation of the country.

Bongani Baloyi, leader of Xiluva political party. File Picture: Supplied

“The second part is that, when a person has committed a crime, the SAPS has to be engaged, which we must professionalise and also digitalise to a certain extent. We must ensure that when you go to open a case, your stuff is recorded properly and your documents do not go missing by digitising and ensuring there is competent and suitably qualified people. We have seen people telling us that when matters go before courts, they lost on the basis of the statements. So the second part for us is to professionalise the SAPS,” he said.

The former Midvaal mayor added that South Africa also needs to deter people from committing crime.

“The biggest crime we have seen in the country is economic crime and violent crimes. We need to deal with it. We need to deploy the SA National Defence (SANDF) to ensure that we look after and protect the strategic economic infrastructure of the country. The third part when we look at crime is how we get proper convictions and ensure that people get arrested. Obviously we will employ technology, comprehensive CCTV network systems, facial recognition and we need a bigger database of people who can recognise who you are, and what you are doing,” said Baloyi.

Xiluva leader Bongani Baloyi during a previous march at Tshwane House. File Picture: Jacques Naude / Independent Newspapers

“The biggest emphasis is going to be on preventing people from committing crime by dealing decisively with poverty, inequality and unemployment.”

On the other hand, ActionSA led by businessman and for executive mayor of Joburg Herman Mashaba said for any crime fighting/prevention strategy to be effective, South Africans must first, agitate for a constitutional change in policing functions where provincial authorities are empowered in their efforts towards tackling crime.

Action SA leader Herman Mashaba. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers.

“We believe that crime fighting has got to be contextualised and primed to be better handled by those closest to it. With this in mind, ActionSA will be calling for a decentralisation of policing functions to the provincial South African Police Service, for a context-informed crime prevention and response,” said ActionSA’s Team FixSA member responsible for Law and Order, Thuli Khoza.

“To supplement such a policing policy directive, ActionSA also believes in harsher criminal punishment as a deterrent away from contact crime (violent crime). These are criminal offences that include murder, attempted murder, hijacking, sexual crimes like rape, hijacking and house break-ins. Our plan is to increase the penalties for these groups of crimes, by increasing the sentences.”

In addition to the to the measures outlined above, Khoza said an ActionSA-led national government will also seek to limit the rights of criminals convicted of violent/contact crimes.

“We believe that criminals convicted of these crimes must serve their sentences without the possibility of parole with their right to vote also reviewed,” she said.

The political party said South Africa also has to unleash interventions to combat gangsterism. ActionSA said if elected into office during the May elections, it would also swell the ranks of the SAPS to ensure that there is more boots on the ground.

ActionSA’s Team FixSA member responsible for Law and Order, Thuli Khoza. Picture: Supplied

“An ActionSA-led national government will also look into increased policing where we embark on an extensive recruitment drive and expand the police force. This will be supplemented by the professional development of the SAPS, including but not limited to, enhanced training programmes for new officers in the police service to establish a culture of discipline and respect for the uniform,” said Khoza.

South African Police Service recruits. File Picture: Jacques Naude / Independent Newspapers

“Our law and order policy proposes an increase in policing presence. Research has shown that where there is an increase in police presence it can act as a deterrent against crime, more so within vulnerable and rural communities. Part of this policy proposal is a plan for more investment in policing infrastructure such as mobile police stations, and ActionSA plans to achieve this through the reduction of the VIP budget where the resources are to be re-prioritised towards expanded crime fighting programmes.”

ActionSA highlighted that it believes the SAPS is failing to curb crime “because of the manner in which they are approaching crime prevention”.

The party also lamented the “instability” in SAPS top management, where the appointed national police commissioners fail to complete their full 10-year terms of office.

ActionSA’s Team FixSA member responsible for Law and Order, Thuli Khoza. Picture: Supplied

“Contact crime is quite evidently one of the most pressing areas of concern, if not the most pressing area of concern. This includes violent crimes like murder, attempted murder, sexual violence, gender-based violence, hijacking etc. These inevitably lead to loss of life of innocent civilians, in some cases breadwinners and thus impact greatly the harmony of a society. It also closely ties in with other issues like gangsterism. For that reason, it impresses on us to address it urgently,” Khoza concluded.