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06 May 2007 19:24
Hard labour should be reintroduced as a mandatory sentence for murderers, rapists and armed and violent robbers, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) federal congress urged on Sunday.
It accepted a resolution condemning rampant crime that was “undermining the fundamentals of our democracy”.
Proposing the motion, DA KwaZulu-Natal member of the provincial legislature Radley Keys said criminals no longer merely wanted to rob and steal, but also wanted to make their victims suffer.
Respect for the right to life and property had to be restored, he said.
Seconder Sandy Bidasi said hard labour would not only be a deterrent for criminals, but would also mean they could contribute to the costs of their upkeep in prison, and to the victims’ fund proposed by the DA.
A Gauteng delegate, Geoffrey Ridyard, said that in Botswana hard labour was common and most of the country’s prisons were virtually empty.
“Make no mistake, crime is low in Botswana because of this,” he said. “Please bring back compulsory hard labour.”
In another security-related motion, the congress called on the government to implement an effective policing policy in all rural areas, and to stop closing down commandos until sector policing units were in place.
Proposing that motion, the party’s safety and security spokesperson Diane Kohler-Barnard said it was completely unacceptable that farmers, who fed the nation and had irreplaceable skills, should be left unprotected and exposed in the face of increasing farm attacks.
She said if the government was not going to keep the commandos, it should re-create them in another form under the umbrella of the South African Police Services (SAPS).
Shutting them down and not putting anything in their place was a recipe for disaster.
The congress also called for a complete review of the whole management structure of the SAPS, including the way appointments were made.
Speaking on this motion, Kohler-Barnard said the party needed to bring “long term pressure” on Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula to address the shortages of skills, experience and equipment in the SAPS, to implement merit-based promotion, and zero tolerance for corruption and misuse of police resources.
The DA had to object to any attempt to absorb municipal police forces in the SAPS, and refuse to allow further centralisation of the SAPS.
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