Individuals cannot reach their potential and take advantage of opportunities if they live in fear. When we constrain individuals in pursuing their life goals, we are constraining the well-being of communities. Personal safety is a prerequisite for creating an environment in which South Africans can thrive.
Whilst there has been moderate success in reducing crime levels in the country since 1994, South Africans still do not feel safe nor do they trust that their property is safe from crime. The Victims of Crime Survey published by Statistics South Africa in 20121, showed that more than 1 in 3 households avoid going into open spaces unaccompanied because of their fear of crime, almost 1 in 4 households would not allow their children to play unsupervised by an older person or play freely in their area. Only 14% of households felt safe to walk around in their area in the dark.
Every year, more than 2 million individuals fall victim to crime2. In the five years since 2007, South Africa experienced 85 018 reported murders, 333 374 reported sexual offences, 556 125 reported aggravated robberies and 1.23 million reported residential robberies3.
Criminal activity cannot be allowed to continue tearing apart the fabric of communities and poisoning the national psyche.
The web of terror that crime throws over South Africa is so strong and far-reaching that it is possible to say that every South African has been constrained by it in some way. The lives of many talented and committed South Africans have been lost. Many of us have been deeply traumatized. We have become suspicious of our fellow citizens and distrusting of the institutions that are supposed to keep us safe.
In the DA’s vision of an Open Opportunity Society for All, children are safe from harm and citizens are able to walk in our cities and townships without fear. Criminals are caught promptly and prosecuted speedily, and victims of crime receive appropriate support and are treated with compassion.
Citizens are respectful of the law and understand the consequences of violating it. Communities are confident that those prosecuted will be punished, and will be given opportunities to atone for their actions.
The DA acknowledges that economic disempowerment and social exclusion have left many South Africans without access to opportunities to improve their lives, including proper education and access to employment. This limits choice and can be a contributing factor in a decision to turn to crime. The economic and social motivations contributing to crime must be acknowledged and properly addressed.
At the same time, however, containing crime requires the creation of a culture in which there is a general respect for the rule of law and an understanding that there will be consequences for breaking it. This culture must be built through an honest, efficient criminal justice system.
South Africans do not have to accept crime as an unavoidable part of their lives. In the pursuit of our vision of an Open Opportunity Society for All, the DA would implement policy in support of:
- A police service that is properly equipped, well trained and able to both recognise and respond rapidly and effectively to any threat to the personal safety of South African citizens;
- A justice system that has the necessary independence and resources to ensure that those prosecuted receive a fair and speedy trial and, if found guilty, are appropriately punished;
- A correctional service system that allows people convicted of crimes to be securely detained and offers effective rehabilitation to ensure that the level of criminality in our society is reduced over time; and
- A support system that is attuned to the needs of the victims of crime.
There are five key steps in achieving these outcomes.
- Preventing crime before it occurs;
- Detecting and responding to crime when it does occur;
- Successfully prosecuting and convicting criminals;
- Maintaining a correctional system that reduces criminality; and
- Compensating and providing relief to victims of crime.