DA: SA safety ‘utterly abysmal’

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday said that South Africa being ranked the third least safe place out of 48 countries on the African continent indicates that the country is critically unsafe.

The party’s spokesperson on safety and security, Dianne Kohler-Barnard, said that the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which ranked South Africa as third most dangerous after ”war zone” countries, Sudan and Burundi, indicated that what citizens of this country had been crying out for years was the truth.

”South Africa’s safety and security performance is utterly abysmal. The fact that we are just 30 points above the most dangerous country in Africa, and right now, probably the world, must act as a loud wake-up call to the minister of safety and security.”

She added that countries including Congo, Angola, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Liberia were far safer in terms of safety and security.

”Although the government will continue to throw money at the crime problem, such an approach has had only limited success,” Kohler-Barnard said.

She said it was likely that companies and individuals would continue providing their own security themselves.

”This threatens to spawn a vigilante environment … if a spate of violent robberies and killings of foreigners is repeated during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the negative consequences for future tourism and foreign investment will be severe.”

Bernard said the DA had made suggestions to the government to address the shortage of detectives, and to increase facilities and equipment for the South African Police Service, in order to combat crime.

”African National Congress [ANC] spin doctors are already attempting to denigrate the index, stating that there is this hullabaloo over crime and that South Africa is one of the safest countries in the world — for the ministers and their cronies perhaps, but most certainly not for the rest of us,” Barnard said.

‘Less economically competitive’

Meanwhile, South Africa is moving backwards in key development areas such as economics and safety and security, says the DA.

”When considering year-by-year positions on various indices, South Africa is actually backsliding rather than improving,” says a DA survey, launched by DA parliamentary leader Sandra Botha on Thursday.

The document, titled Truth and Denial, contrasts ruling party claims about the country’s development with figures from international comparative surveys.

Among other things, it shows that according to the United Nations Human Development Index — which takes into account a wide range of factors such as adult literacy and GDP per capita — South Africa has been slowly slipping down the rankings since 2001.

In that year, the country was ranked 94th out of 162 surveyed. Last year, it was 121st out of 177.

Further, the Global Competitiveness Index, published by the World Economic Forum, ranked South Africa 45th in 2006/07, compared with 40th the year before.

”Contrary to the expressed statements of the ANC, South Africa is becoming less economically competitive,” the DA document says.

It also examines the seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends, for the period 1998 to 2000, which shows the crime level in South Africa at that time was such that one in 12 people was a victim.

Botha — speaking at a parliamentary media briefing — said this was ”very close to the position as it is today, in terms of South African statistics”.

The public at least was very certain the crime situation was out of control, and, she said, there was a definite increase in the number of people who were emigrating because of this.

”I’m hoping that [the] 2010 [Soccer World Cup] will see an improvement in crime, because if it doesn’t, every hope that we have of 2010 placing us under the spotlight in terms of an investment and tourism destination … won’t happen,” she warned.

The DA survey also looks at the 2007 Global Peace Index — maintained by the international affairs publication, the Economist — that ranks South Africa 99th out of 121 nations examined for their ”absence of violence”. — Sapa

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