House of Assembly: Vol3 - MONDAY 29 APRIL 1985
The House met at 14h45.
Vote No 10—“Police”:
Mr Chairman, in introducing the discussion of the Vote I should like to comment generally as regards the current riot situation, a South West African issue and another matter affecting the kwaZulu Government in particular.
Unrest at schools and riots in general in parts of the Republic are a cause for concern and the general onslaught on internal security is complicated because we are dealing with a revolutionary climate not previously so obvious and not organized in so sophisticated a way. It is clear that experienced and hardened advisers remain involved in he background.
I have already indicated on more than one occasion that the principal resistance grouping is firstly the SACP-ANC alliance and secondly the “non-collaboration” grouping of the UDF with it affiliated organizations, the National Forum Committee and radical trade unions. Supplementary to these groupings are support groups and radical individuals internally and externally who are lending active support to one or more resistance groups and concentrating themselves independently on resistance politics, exploitation of political flashpoints and socio-economic bottlenecks as well as the subtle undermining and/or disparagement of the legitimacy of the current dispensation and its organizations of authority.
Factors contributing to the increase of the unrest potential and revolutionary climate among the various groupings and facilitating their task include inter alia the following: Firstly, urbanization and demographic factors; secondly, psychological and ethnological factors; thirdly, socio-economic and social factors and, fourthly, the schools situation which is also an important factor and supplies fertile breeding-ground for the increase of the potential for unrest.
Most of the hostile propaganda actions are concentrated on the politicizing and mobilization of primary target groups. The urban Black man is subjected primarily to the process but the politicizing is being extended to the country districts. Everything is being politicized.
At present the UDF, which includes a large number of ex-ANC members in its top management, is at the spearhead of the unrest and riot situation in the Republic. A large number of organizations representing a broad spectrum of pressure groups such as trade unions and community and youth organizations is affiliated to the UDF. Affiliated militant organizations include the Congress of South African Students and the Azanian Students’ Organization which politicize, mobilize and manipulate students in the educational field. Even blatant intimidation and violence take place.
In its declaration of intent the UDF mentions that it is its objective to combat constitutional reform in the Republic of South Africa. In practice it strives to attain this objective through its affiliated organizations by holding gatherings during which social bottlenecks are clutched at to create a climate of civil disobedience in the sure knowledge that a situation of unrest will ultimately arise from the sustained agitation and incitement.
The ANC’s declared policy is the intensification of its violent struggle in the Republic of South Africa. This also includes commands that actions should be aimed at making the country ungovernable. The highest priorities are the mobilization of the masses and the incitement to organized insurrection which is to degenerate into national revolt—that means into a full-scale revolution. The unrest at schools and the general unrest and riot situation in the Republic is regarded as part of this organized revolt.
Apart from the fact that since its establishment the UDF could act openly as “opposition” against the new constitutional dispensation, it and its affiliates have allowed no opportunity to pass to seize on grievances and bottlenecks such as the weak economy, the increase in GST, general price increases and increases in rentals, service charges and busfares for making political capital.
After September 1984 unrest spread outward to the Eastern Cape, the Orange Free State and the Western Transvaal. A disturbing aspect is the fact that unrest is not limited only to the larger centres but has already spread to country towns, especially in the Eastern Cape, the Karoo region, the Northern Free State and to a lesser degree the Northern Cape. The Eastern Cape is a particularly sensitive area in consequence of the contributory factor of large-scale unemployment and other socio-economic bottlenecks.
Nevertheless in 1985 the situation of unrest began assuming greater proportions; to an increasing degree attacks have been aimed directly at the South African Police, the South African Defence Force and members of community councils. This trend is in accordance with ANC strategy—as emphasized by the president of the ANC, Oliver Tambo, during the ANC’s 73rd anniversary—that internal political mass mobilization actions, especially united action in the labour sphere as well as expansion of its underground structures and its violent offensive to incite the masses to internal civil war should be carried out and that no dialogue should take place with the Government of the Republic of South Africa.
In broadcasts on “Radio Freedom” on 17 February 1985 and in the first edition of Sechaba in 1985 the following instructions were given to the Black population in the Republic of South Africa as regards action during the present situation of unrest: Traditional weapons should be manufactured and used “om die onderdrukkers te ontwapen sodat hul wapens dan aan die massa beskikbaar gestel kan word”; petrol and home-made bombs should be manufactured from available material; weaponry should be purchased and stolen; collaborators and hostile agents, for example members of Black community councils, informers and members of the South Africa Police and the South African Defence Force, especially those living in Black areas, should be eliminated; deeds of sabotage should be carried out against industries and farms which bring prosperity to the authorities; the Black population should make itself uncontrollable and ungovernable; the enemy’s property and staff, as well as collaborators should be attacked with petrol bombs or any available material and lastly, mass demonstrations were inadequate and actions should take the form of civil war. So ran general instructions issued.
In recent times actions such as those prescribed by the ANC have been encountered in practice. This also emerges from the following examples—and I am indicating only a few: In the first place, dwellings of Black members of the South African Police and Black local authorities have been attacked increasingly with petrol bombs and even hand grenades. Since 1 January 1985 72 dwellings of members of the Force have been attacked by radicals in the Eastern Cape alone, in consequence of which damage to the amount of approximately R279 000 was caused. Dwellings of 20 members were totally destroyed by fire whereas 52 houses were seriously damaged. In the second place, during the riots at Crossroads unidentified persons fired on members of the South African Police with live ammunition. In the third place a short circuit was caused deliberately to a transformer at Crossroads by rioters. In the fourth place, a home-made acid bomb was thrown at members of the South African Police.
This tendency which is rearing its head from the nature of the case holds danger to members of the Force and it should be clearly understood that, just as no mercy will be shown to people hurling petrol bombs at members of the Force, in the same way no mercy will be shown to people slinging acid bombs at the Police. Lastly, telephone wires were also damaged at Fort Beaufort in this connection.
Another matter to which I wish to draw attention is that the ANC is at present concentrating more on the local training of terrorists in country districts. With the aid of locally trained terrorists and UDF activists the ANC envisages promoting a condition of ungovernability. Simultaneously the local population is encouraged according to classical revolutionary theories to establish alternative structures of authority and a course in this respect has already been presented at Wilgespruit Fellowship Centre by members of the Black Power.
The gravity and extent of the situation are clearly illustrated by the following information made available to me for the period 1 September 1984 to 22 March of this year. Firstly, it seems that damage to buildings—20 or more different types of buildings are involved here—up to 22 March had already amounted to more than R28 million according to fair estimates. Damage to a wide range of vehicles, including a few trains which were damaged, amounted to more than R12 million. In addition more than 10 000 people were arrested in areas of unrest on charges with direct bearing on the riot situation. Up to 22 March one White and 216 non-Whites were killed while 15 Whites and 736 non-Whites were injured. Four members of the SA Police were killed and 181 injured in the process.
The greatest percentage of damage done to buildings and vehicles was in Black areas and to buildings and vehicles used to the benefit of Black communities. In the same way a substantial percentage of the deaths and injuries among Black people was caused by Blacks themselves. I therefore make an earnest appeal to all right-minded people in Black residential areas to realize that Blacks are harming Blacks most disturbingly. In fact, it will take years to recover financial losses. Funds will not be made available overnight to repair buildings so wantonly damaged. Secondly, I ask everyone to combat the UDF and all other organizations which through violence and/or other unlawful methods are attempting to make the country ungovernable. After all, it is in no one’s interest if the children of the inhabitants of these areas do not go to school or that buildings erected for their benefit are burnt down and that their residential areas are converted to ash heaps.
Further, I appeal to all responsible community leaders, White and non-White, to make proper contact with each other and to discuss problems which Black communities in particular are grappling with. I have been making this appeal for some considerable time and I repeat it today here in this House. We must move closer together as regards discussion. Many problems could have been obviated by timeous and proper communication. People have to realize that violence is no solution and that our future cannot be determined through the barrel of a gun.
Nevertheless the Government will not permit violence and anarchy to reign. The SA Police and the other branches of the Security Forces will do their duty to restore law and order and to maintain it. An even greater duty rests on all responsible formers of opinion and leaders in every sphere, however, to give attention to the real causes of the present riot situation by means of proper communication.
I should like to bring another matter as regards to presence of the SA Police in South West Africa to the attention of the House. On 18 April 1985 the Government announced the following arrangements as regards SAP units or members who are currently serving in South West Africa: As from 1 May 1985 the command and control of the Security Branch in South West Africa will be transferred to the Commissioner of the South West African Police. As from the same date the command and control of the fighting unit known as Koevoet, which already consists overwhelmingly of South West African members, will also be transferred to the same commissioner of this Force. Members of the SA Police attached to the units mentioned will be transferred by way of secondment and according to the need of the South West African Police. All other members of the SA Police at present serving in South West Africa will soon be withdrawn from the territory.
I should like to make use of this opportunity to express the Government’s thanks to the relevant members of the Force because they were prepared to do further service in the SWA Police on the proposed basis as well as for the good and faithful service which all members of the SA Police furnished in the past under similar circumstances.
Since the inception of the counterinsurgency unit of the SA Police, it has operated in the following areas: South West Africa, Ovambo and Caprivi from 1967 to 1972; Ovambo and South West Africa from 1978 to 1985, in other words until the present; Rhodesia from August 1967 to September 1979 and again in Rhodesia from September 1979 to April 1980.
Operation “K”, better known as “Koevoet” was launched in January 1979 and this unit rapidly developed into one of the most formidable of its kind ever to operate in Southern Africa. The unit has an excellent fighting record and it gives me pleasure to pay tribute to Brigadier Hans Dreyer who started the unit and is still its commanding officer today. It is to this unit that the hon member for Sea Point referred in the House last year as follows:
Those were the hon member’s words and I appreciate them greatly.
The rest was recorded fully in Hansard last year. I should like to repeat it as I am not ashamed of it. The hon member expressed many more positive thoughts on it but hon members will realize I want to be brief and do not wish to take up too much of the time of the House. Other hon members also want to speak.
Since 1966, 108 members of the Force have died during counterinsurgency service and one also thinks of the sacrifices they and their families have made over the years. It is a pity that there are regular allegations from certain quarters that members of Koevoet are guilty of all kinds of misdemeanours and that they are suppressed. It is understandable that such allegations are made as the credibility of the unit is prejudiced in this manner in an effort to destroy it. The facts of the matter, however, are that there were isolated cases in which deserters from the ranks of Koevoet did perpetrate certain offences. These people were apprehended by their own former mates, however, heard in criminal courts and also punished. As regards Koevoet members themselves, only four members were found guilty of misdemeanours while they were attached to the unit; three were found guilty of common assault and one for pointing a firearm. They are no longer attached to the unit and no member of the unit has a criminal record.
Members of the security branch continue furnishing service of inestimable value in the interest of South West Africa and the Republic of South Africa and I regret that we shall have to do without their services temporarily but it is in the interest of South West Africa that they mesh into that Force and we are pleased to be able to contribute in this respect. I know that all members of the SAP who are now being seconded will continue furnishing their best service in the good tradition of the South African Police.
†Mr Chairman, it has come to my notice that unsubstantiated rumours are being spread countrywide that the SA Police are making use of Zulu members in a calculated bid to curb the unrest in the Eastern Cape. These allegations are clearly aimed at tarnishing the good relations between the Government and the kwaZulu Government. Chief Minister Buthelezi of kwaZulu who is entitled to criticize the Government when he believes it is necessary, is rightfully upset by these rumours which, should they be true, are nothing but a blatant misuse of ethnicity as such. The SA Police does not differentiate between its members on grounds of ethnicity, and I have stressed this fact publicly more than once in the past.
As a result of the circumstances in the Eastern Cape during the past few months the SA Police was forced to send additional members into the area, and these were drawn from other areas where no unrest had taken place. Naturally, some members from Natal were among those sent to the Eastern Cape. The complement of additional non-White members totals about 500 of which those of Zulu descent are by far in the minority.
The accusation has also been made in respect of Chief Gatsha Buthelezi that Zulu members were used during the so-called Langa incident on 21 March 1985. In this regard the Commissioner of Police informs me that only two Black members were present during the incident concerned and that they were both of Xhosa descent. There were, of course, Coloured members there with the White members.
I agree with Chief Minister Buthelezi when he said on 26 March 1985 in the kwaZulu Legislative Assembly:
I sincerely hope that the policy of the SA Police is now clear in this regard as well as the practical application thereof.
Mr Chairman, I wish to claim the privilege of the half-hour.
I am sure that we all listened with considerable interest this afternoon to the remarks of the hon the Minister of Law and Order who certainly painted a very grim picture of the internal situation in South Africa. That grim picture is a cause of great concern to all of us. In fact, one cannot open a newspaper these days without seeing headlines relating to the ongoing unrest in Black townships throughout the country and, more particularly, of course, in the Eastern Cape.
The hon the Minister has ascribed all of this unrest to the machinations of a number of bodies such as the UDF, Azapo, the ANC, Cosas and so forth. Without referring to specific organizations, I have no doubt that there are certain people who would want to take advantage of a situation to foment further trouble. I feel that that can of course be admitted. However, I do feel that it is totally unrealistic for us to believe that this is the basic cause of all the unrest in South Africa today.
We warned the Government that the institution of a new constitution excluding 70% of the population of this country—the Blacks—would polarize the situation. [Interjections.] Yes, well, I am afraid we have to say this. We said that it would polarize the situation and would lead to resentment and make Black people feel that they were being completely excluded from constitutional development. Whether we like or not, that has given a fertile field to the people to whom the hon the Minister ascribes responsibility for the present situation.
I may also add that there is no apparent understanding on the part of the Government in regard to the increasing economic difficulties being experienced by the poorest section of our population. There is massive unemployment among Black people, and the hon the Leader of the Official Opposition mentioned this fact only the other day. He referred particularly to unemployment among young Black people between the ages of 14 and 30 years, as well as the fact that in families where two or three people were employed, there is probably one and possibly not even one employed at the present moment. Added to this, is the fact that we have rising prices in all the staple foodstuffs eaten by the Black people and the poor sections of our community generally. The Government appears to take no notice of this fact whatsoever.
I do not excuse unrest or violence; on the contrary, I cannot possibly condone the acts of violence that have taken place. However, let us least be realistic and face the situation properly.
The hon the Minister also said that he had appealed for better liaison between the Police and the various sections of the community. I should like in this regard to remind the hon the Minister of the times that we have been to see him and asked him personally to visit communities where there had been increasing unrest.
I want to mention a specific example in this regard. Most of the unrest began in Cradock last year. We asked him to go down and talk to representatives of the community. When he ultimately did get there, I am informed that the people he talked to were not representative of the community at all but were representative of those people who were within the system; in other words, part of the Government, either by virtue of being part of the community council or part of the White town council. That is not getting to the heart of the matter by talking to the people concerned, namely the residents’ associations and so forth. While we admit that there may well be troublemakers, they have very fertile fields indeed in which to work. Having said that, I will in the course of my speech come back to the whole question of Koevoet which the hon the Minister has also mentioned this afternoon.
I want to commence the discussion on this Vote by anticipating some of the loud cries that I imagine would come from those members of the CP—if they were here, of course—and some members of the NP who are going to shout: “She hates the Police” before I get very far with my speech; that silly, mindless accusation that I get from across the floor, especially from the hon the Minister of Communications and of Public Works, and now Acting Minister of Health and Welfare, God help us! [Interjections.] I want to say categorically that I do not hate the Police. I am very appreciative of the fact that they have a very difficult job, that they have arduous hours, that they very often have to perform very dangerous tasks, and that in the course of their duty they also very often perform brave and often heroic tasks.
Yes, I am prepared to say that in all sincerity; they do all of that. I also realize that they bear the brunt of having to implement the most unpopular laws that this Government insists on keeping on the Statute Book, by which I mean the pass laws and curfew laws. Last year alone the police arrested 164 000 Black people for pass offences. These are the most discriminatory laws since they apply only to Black people. They also arrested 11 700 Black people for curfew transgressions. It is no wonder therefore that in implementing these unpopular laws—and it is not their fault that they have to implement them—in the eyes of the Black people, the Police are not performing their proper function which is the prevention of crime—real crime, not statutory crime like transgression of the pass laws—and protecting the public, but have become instead, in the eyes of the Black people, oppressors. That is the awful part about it.
Let me now get on with the real purpose of Committee of Supply which most people forget about. From those benches hon members spend most of their time thanking the Ministers. We are using Committee of Supply in its correct context, and that is to call upon Ministers to account for their sins of omission and commission. Obviously we would like to know the reasons for the enormous amount allocated to the Vote under discussion for this year. We are going to call on the hon the Minister to account for his sins of omission and commission. This year he is asking for just on R955 million, which is an increase of about 20% on last year’s appropriation figure.
I believe it is a very sad reflection on the state of affairs in South Africa that the police are unable to maintain law and order on their own and that the army has been used in the townships, thus giving the impression—which the hon the Minister seemed to admit this afternoon—that a civil war is presently being waged in South Africa. What disturbs us on these benches is the distinct impression that the police are using undue force in the exercise of their duties and that their behaviour in the townships is an exacerbating factor in the unrest which has now become endemic and which may soon become totally unmanageable.
What went on last year in the Reef townships in the Vaal Triangle between August and November has been very carefully documented by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference in a report entitled Police Conduct during Township Protests. It makes horrifying reading, Sir. I have no time to quote at length from it. I shall leave that to one of my hon colleagues. I shall mention only that the general allegations are of indiscriminate use of firearms, assaults and beatings of people in the townships, assaults on mine-workers, damage to property, provocative, callous and insensitive conduct, indiscriminate or reckless use of teargas, undesirable police conduct at funerals and also other allegations.
Ealier this session the hon member for Albany and the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central gave the House details and affidavits which they had collected from people who had been teargassed, shot or beaten by the police in Port Alfred, Cradock and elsewhere in the Eastern Cape, including Uitenhage, under circumstances which could not possibly be justified. What—if anything—has the hon the Minister done about these cases and about investigating the circumstances described in those affidavits which were given to him by the two hon members to whom I have just referred?
I also have a number of sworn statements bearing out many of the allegations already made. These and other reports of excessive Police action in the Eastern Cape and elsewhere make it very likely that the Catholic Bishops’ Report on the Vaal Triangle is applicable mutatis mutandis to what is in fact happening in the Eastern Cape and elsewhere.
All those allegations have been properly investigated and I shall give the hon member for Houghton the relevant information right away.
Well, I am delighted to hear that. I am sure my hon colleagues who did all the work in taking down the affidavits will be very glad indeed to have that information.
I have said before, Sir, that the very presence of police at the funerals of victims of police shootings is in itself provocative, and I do want to commend the hon the Minister—or the Commissioner of Police or whoever is responsible—in that, for once, there were no Police shootings is in itself provocative, and I killed at Langa near Uitenhage on 21 March took place. There were also no incidents. Equally yesterday, when there was a large funeral at Zwide, near Port Elizabeth, there were no police present at the actual scene of the funeral, and there were no incidents. I hope very much that this is going to become general practice in the future.
I have to repeat now what I said in the special debate on the Langa incident on 21 March, namely that the police appear to have abandoned all the training they received in riot control. It seems that the preservation of life, which is implicit in the Standing Instructions that fire power is to be used in riot or crowd control only as a last resort, has been superseded by the very different attitude which is expressed in the instruction telexed from Police Headquarters in Pretoria two days before the Langa incident. The instruction said that police manning Casspir patrol vehicles in all areas be issued with R1 rifles and that “when petrol bombs or acid bombs are thrown at police vehicles, every attempt must be made to eliminate the guilty party”. Well, that sounds fine and dandy, but if this is indeed the case, it means the instructions which were so painstakingly explained to us by the Commissioner of Police and others at Maleoskop when we went to visit the police training college there have been replaced by what—so it seems to me—is tantamount to a licence to the Police to kill. That is what has replaced it.
We in these benches condemn that attitude in the strongest possible terms. Police excesses must be curbed, not encouraged, and the senior officer, I believe, should be severely reprimanded, if not discharged, for sending that telex message.
I believe the hon the Minister ought to do a “recce” right through the Police Force, from top to bottom, to find out how many of those members are keen supporters of the Conservative Party, and who are out to do damage to the good name of the police by excessive behaviour, and by giving instructions of that nature. [Interjections.] Yes, I believe that ought to be done.
That is a very ugly remark which the hon member has made. [Interjections.]
No, it is nothing of the kind. [Interjections.] No, just a minute. Let me say …
It has not been politicized at any stage.
That is what the hon the Minister thinks.
That is not the truth.
I think so. The hon the Minister is an innocent; he is totally naive.
I am not innocent and I am not naive. I know the Force.
Does he really believe that members of the CP are not working away like beavers, not only among the Police but among the entire Public Service, to get as much support as possible for their point of view and to do damage to the NP and its policy of reform? Has the hon the Minister forgotten the remark made by the hon member for Barberton during the debate on Crossroads where he virtually said the police should have gone in and killed more people?
No, that is not true! [Interjections.]
That was undoubtedly the implication of what he said. [Interjections.] There is no doubt whatsoever.
I just think the hon the Minister ought to have a look at the Police Code which was published recently by the Metropolitan Police and which warns of the dangers of undue zeal, and stresses the importance of protecting civil liberties. Inter alia, it says:
those are the words, “with consummate skill”—
I think that should be the aim of our Police Force as well, especially in the difficult circumstances facing us now.
I have had a number of complaints showing that consumate skill is certainly not being used. I have also had complaints that thoroughly obstructive methods are being used by the Police against the attorneys who are acting for the relatives of young people who have been charged with public violence in Uitenhage and elsewhere. They are held for longer than 48 hours before being produced in court. Parents are not informed that their children have been arrested and are being detained in police cells. The hon the Minister said that it was normal practice to notify relatives. However, let me tell him that normal practice is not being followed in Uitenhage as far as this is concerned.
Many of the prisoners awaiting trial have been refused normal rights such as visits, changes of clothing and additional food. Furthermore, parents or attorneys are not notified when these young people are to appear in court. These are obstructive methods by the Police.
I am also told that many of the Police in the Eastern Cape are no longer wearing identification numbers. Why, I wonder? Why are they not wearing their identification numbers? Will the hon the Minister please look into that matter?
I want to come now to the subject of Koevoet, a very touchy subject indeed with the hon the Minister. The hon the Minister informs us that units of the SA Police, including Koevoet, are to be handed over now to Swapol, the police force in the new interim government in Namibia. We were invited to attend the ceremony which is to take place and I know the hon the Minister is very angry because we have refused, in that we do not want to be identified with any paying of “hulde” to Koevoet. We do not accept the hon the Minister’s description of Koevoet having done “an outstanding task”. [Interjections.] Our information, Sir, from the Catholic Bishops’ reports and from the Bar Council’s submission to the Van Dyk Commission is that Koevoet have been terrorizing the civilian population in Namibia and that people have been killed and buried with no inquests taking place. These are accusations which were made by what must surely be a responsible body of men—and women presumably—namely the Bar Council of South West Africa.
I think what the hon the Minister should do is to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the series of trials which have taken place of members of Koevoet who were found guilty of appalling conduct and other allegations pertaining to the training instructions and conduct of that unit.
Hon members should know that Koevoet are trained for two main reasons—interrogation and elimination. Is it true that the White members of Koevoet do not wear uniform? Is it true, as I have been told, that some of them wear T-shirts with “Kill ’em all and let God sort ’em out” on them? Is that true?
Why don’t you go and have a look for yourself?
I will go to have a look. I will do that, but I will not go with the hon the Minister. I will go on my own.
“Killing is our business, and business is good.” Has the hon the Minister seen members of Koevoet wearing these disgusting T-shirts? Does he not think that that would have a very bad effect indeed on the civilian population? I believe these people are programmed to kill. This was revealed at the trial of The State v Paulus and Mateus where it was proved that members had been paid “kopgeld” for every insurgent they had killed.
The hon the Minister has paid out a lot of money as a result of claims for damages in so far as Koevoet is concerned. R85 700 was paid out by the hon the Minister because of claims instituted by the widow and children of Jona Hamukawaya who was killed by Koevoet and also because of claims arising out of assault by members of Koevoet on other people.
I am informed that between February and April of this year the hon the Minister settled out of court claims for costs and capital amounting to R150 000. Where does all this come from? It comes from cases which were brought by the relatives of a schoolteacher who was killed, and other people who were illegally detained. That, I believe, is “cheque-book justice”.
The hon the Minister told us this afternoon that those members of Koevoet who were involved in these cases were no longer members of Koevoet; they had been discharged. Did I understand him correctly?
I cannot say how many have been discharged.
But the hon the Minister did say that they were no longer members of the unit. I listened very carefully.
I talked about those …
Who had been found guilty?
Yes, those found guilty on criminal charges.
Yes, but what about those in respect of whom claims had been paid out?
Order! I am not going to allow a dialogue across the floor of the committee.
Sir, I think you should tell the hon the Minister that. I do not wish to enter into a dialogue with him.
What has happened to Sergeant Abrams, the man who was involved in the Hamukawaya case? I presume that he has been chucked out. I hope that the hon the Minister will confirm that.
I want to conclude with something which will really make the hon the Minister hopping mad, but that is the object of the exercise. I want to say that the hon the Minister has been a sad disappointment to me because when he first took over the portfolio of Law and Order I had a talk with him. He seemed to be a very reasonable man. At that time there was trouble in the Western Cape and the hon the Minister agreed with me when I said: “For heaven’s sake, no shooting.” I am not sure whether that trouble was at Elsies River or Kuils River. The hon the Minister said that unless absolutely unavoidable there would be no shooting. However, he has changed and I wonder what has happened to him.
You are the cause of it.
Oh, I am the cause of it! I shall be even more the cause of it in a minute.
He accepts without question everything the Police do or tell him. He has a totally misguided sense of loyalty to his Force. This sort of condonation from the top has a very bad effect on discipline and permeates the whole Force. What is more, it does damage to all those good members of the Police Force who get tarred with the same irresponsible actions of those bad members of the Force. I think it is entirely detrimental to the Force’s relationship with the public. For all those reasons I move as an amendment:
This will leave the hon the Minister with the salary of a constable.
Mr Chairman, when the hon member for Houghton started her speech and gave praise where I think it was due, I was a bit uncomfortable. I soon realized, however, that old habits die hard and that it would be impossible for the hon member really to convert her words into deeds. She was only paying lip service when she praised the SA Police.
May I ask the hon member whether she loves the Police? She says she does not hate its members, but is that the kind of speech delivered by somebody who says she loves them? [Interjections.] I want to infer that the hon member’s actions are those of a person who does not love the Police. She made a number of unfounded remarks with which I shall deal, but it seems to me that the hon member lives in a completely different atmosphere.
She took the Government to task for not addressing the economic crisis and unemployment in this country. I would like to quote from the Sowetan of 24 April this year. We can expect positive remarks from the Sowetan, but not from the hon member for Houghton. In a leading article in the Sowetan the following was stated:
I wish to thank the Sowetan for these positive remarks it carried.
However, there is another question I should like to put to the hon member for Houghton: Why is she not prepared to name the organizations that are responsible for the unrest we are having? She concedes that there are forces and individuals at work. Why is she not prepared to name them?
She is not a judge. [Interjections.]
I will come back to that remark made by the hon member for Sand-ton who has just said: “She is not a judge.” She therefore concedes the fact that she does not know. She pleads ignorance. I will deal later with the interjection made by the hon member for Sandton.
*I wish to appeal to the hon Leader of the Official Opposition to remove the hon member for Houghton as the spokesman for the portfolio of Law and Order for his party. The hon member for Houghton is a favourite in the eyes of revolutionaries and the international media. A call by the hon leader of the Official Opposition for renunciation of violence and that people should cease their mutiny and insurrection is of no value whatsoever as long as the hon member for Houghton and her soulmate, Mrs Molly Blackburn by name, put their arms around and embrace people responsible for incitement to unrest. [Interjections.]
I challenge the hon member for Houghton while she poses with people responsible for this unrest to reprimand them for their criminal action. [Interjections.]
Lord Scarman who investigated the Brix-ton riots in Britain in 1981 stated on the first page of his report that he had found there had been criminal action—regardless of grievances. In contrast to him, the hon member for Houghton fails to condemn those people where it matters. The pronouncements of the hon Leader of the Official Opposition are consequently of no value whatsoever in the eyes of those people.
I had really hoped the hon member for Houghton would do just two things: That she would mention positive examples of appreciation in her speech—not only a generalization—and that she would express herself against the lawlessness and lack of restraint which is the order of the day in this country.
The hon member for Houghton is more radical, however, than Bishop Tutu, the UDF and the international media. [Interjections.] When Azapo and the UDF issued a statement on 12 April they were more moderate than the hon member for Houghton. I quote them as follows:
On the same day the Sowetan said in its leading article under the caption “Stop this Nonsense”:
[Interjections.] That is asking too much. Why is the hon member for Houghton silent when she knows we have to do with an exceptionally sophisticated organization? Within one hour on 3 September 26 of the 35 councillors were murdered or suffered loss. People say “no” to evolution and “yes” to revolution; they say “no” to reform and “yes” to destruction; they say “no” to constructive participation and “yes” to seizing power. Where was the PFP during the “stay-away” calls last year when the chairman of the Transvaal Stay-Away Committee, Mr Mali, said: “It is our duty to create an ungovernable situation and to force the State to declare some of the areas of South Africa as liberated zones”? Then the PFP and all its spokesmen were silent. Why do they not take up the cudgels on behalf of the Police? On 3 September 1984 from six o’clock that morning to 23h25 there was a riot of some nature or other every 12,5 minutes. For three months there were police officials who slept only three hours a night. The hon member for Houghton is silent because she has become the symbol of radicalism. Let us weigh her up. On 25 April the hon member for Houghton said the following in the House: “The realities of what is going on in South Africa …” should be televised on the South African television service. She then said that these realities “might make a very big difference to public opinion if South Africans could see on television what the viewers in England and America are seeing almost daily, namely the use of sjamboks by policemen, tear gas being thrown at houses, demonstrators being shot”. We can expect no extenuation, no mercy from the hon member for Houghton and therefore she should receive no mercy from our side either.
What did people abroad say when they saw precisely that on television? I quote from the Sunday Telegraph as follows:
That is a much more reasonable point of view than we have heard from that hon member.
I want to hurry as I wish to deal with yet another two members of the PFP. I am very grateful that the hon member for Johannesburg North is present. He is a man who, when approached by the Press for comment, is inclined to say: “The matter will be raised in Parliament.” He is a man who honours parliamentary traditions but when he appeared on occasion in East London he saw fit to criticize the State President for his disregard for the traditions of Parliament. He said the State President’s action “to intimidate Parliament was disgraceful” and that he “tried to suppress debate”. If one takes care in reading the statement issued by the State President on 27 March a few matters emerge clearly. In the first place he called for a factual investigation so that the true state of affairs could be established. Like the hon member for Houghton and for the edification of the hon member for Sandton the State President said that facts had to be established. In contrast to the hon member for Houghton he requested that the debate be reserved until then. In the second place the State President said ample opportunity would be created for the debate. The question to be answered is whether the Police acted in self-defence, yes or no. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I rise to enable the hon member to continue.
Mr Chairman, I thank the hon the Chief Whip but I wish to warn him that he is not softening my heart.
Against the background of standards set by the hon member for Johannesburg North, namely that parliamentary traditions and parliamentary debate should be kept high, I now wish to ask where the hon member for Durban Central is today. Where is the hon member for Durban Central? I think it important that this House investigate the role of the hon member for Durban Central and his colleagues more closely.
On 15 March the hon member for Durban Central paid a visit to Maleoskop where he received parliamentary privileges and was given information and explanation under privileged circumstances by police officers. On his return he requested a further discussion. This request of his was complied with but before this could be arranged, the hon member offered himself as an advocate on the so-called Kannemeyer Commission and the hon member for Pietermaritzburg North said:
He received instructions from the hon member for Berea.
Now we can ask with justification what this hon member’s involvement is. Is he there as an advocate or as a member of Parliament? What is he doing there and what is he to achieve there? He cannot possibly sever himself from the PFP caucus which is taking the role of prosecutor and executioner in this entire debate. [Interjections.] Its members are not interested in the facts—contrary to what the hon member for Sand-ton implies … [Interjections.] They are not interested in the question whether the Police acted in self-defence. No, they are acting as prosecutors of the Police. I think his action unworthy. He receives information as a Member of Parliament and against the background of such information received he goes forth and cross-questions police officers in another capacity. What he fails to accomplish here in Parliament in standing committees, namely to cross-examine police officers, he proceeds to do before the Kannemeyer Commission.
What are the submissions he will make next Wednesday on that Commission? The hon member for Johannesburg North says:
What are the submissions? Why does he not make the submissions now in this House? He is absent. If the judge does not find for him in his submissions, is he going to express criticism on this judgement as the hon member for Houghton and other colleagues of his have done in the past? In the light of this I am not sure that the dubious role played by the PFP should pass so unnoticed. I am not sure whether the PFP should not be excluded from the privileged discussions taking place under these circumstances. [Interjections.]
On the one hand its members do not accept that information and on the other they use it for their own purposes. We on this side of the House believe in law and order. We do not believe in order without law. We believe laws and legal principles protect the public and the Police. We believe the unlawful action of a police officer should be punished like that of any other citizen. We believe self-defence is a legal action which is available not only to the public but also to the Police. That means the Police should not only protect the lives and property of others but also be able to protect the lives and property of its own members. The country needs a strong, imaginative and disciplined Force, and Parliament and this side of the House will do everything to assist the Minister and the Police Force in the execution of this. The Police itself is working at an image and its members realize that they play a great part in creating relationships. There are justified grievances but that is no reason to take law and order into one’s own hands. We do not condemn political consciousness and political mobilization but we condemn lack of restraint and lawlessness. We acknowledge we have a duty to participate in the evolutionary process and to protect those wishing to participate in it. Unrest should be handled firmly and the SA Police provides protection and does its work.
In closing I should like finally to scotch the rumour, the gossip, that the Kannemeyer Commission was instituted to crucify the Police. People died unnatural deaths. In any case postmortem examinations would have taken place and I think it is a disgraceful campaign of slander which has been set afoot to allege that we instituted the Kannemeyer Commission to crucify the Police Force.
Mr Chairman, in the course of my address I shall refer to certain observations made by the hon member for Krugersdorp. I just want to say at the outset that we in the CP share the concern of the hon the Minister about the unrest in South Africa. We support him in his attempts to clamp down on certain elements that are trying to make South Africa ungovernable, and bring the situation under control.
We are less happy about the withdrawal of the Police from South West Africa. We wonder whether this does not demonstrate some of the weariness the Government is revealing in connection with its involvement in South West Africa. Nevertheless, we join the hon the Minister in paying tribute to members of the Force who, in the highest tradition of the SA Police, have discharged their obligations and continue to do so there.
†As far as the hon member for Houghton is concerned, I find it incomprehensible that the hon member firstly takes pains to assure the House that she has the highest regard for the Police and says that they have a difficult task because they have to administer bad laws, and then in the same breath and for the rest of her speech vilifies the Police in the execution of their duties in Langa in Port Elizabeth and all over the country in language she has not used before in the House. She went on to attack the hon member for Barberton. I want to remind her of the words he used in the House. He said (Hansard: 26 February 1985, kol 1458):
Where did he say that he urged the Police to shoot the people responsible for the uproar? He proceeded to say:
The laws of this country must be administered and for doing that we praise the hon the Minister.
*I went through the annual report of the Commissioner of Police and I should like to congratulate the Commissioner on it. Although the Police are sharply criticized by certain circles, particularly left-wing circles, about the way they discharge their duties in maintaining law and order in South Africa, it is often forgotten that year after year, as the annual report shows, members of the Force have made the supreme sacrifice. From these benches we pay tribute to their memories and convey our sympathy to their loved ones. Personally, I have pleaded for many years with the hon the Minister and his predecessors for the erection of a memorial to commemorate the deeds of these people, and I am happy that such a monument has now come into existence and that the actions and brave deeds of members of the Force are being honoured in this way.
Further, arising from the annual report I noticed that there was a drop of 12% in applications to join the Police Force. It is a pity that there are no finances, and also that there is no space, to accommodate all those who applied. There are some indications of an increase in crime, particularly an increase of 9,39% in murder. Under these circumstances and the circumstances existing in South Africa in general, the SA Police ought to be congratulated on the way in which, through hard work and dedication, they have kept serious crime under control. These are the sort of remarks one seldom hears from the benches of the Official Opposition.
Since the question of national service for Coloureds and Indians is once again receiving public attention, it is somewhat alarming to observe that in the whole country there are only 11 police stations staffed exclusively by Coloureds, and that there are only two staffed by Indians, whereas there are 42 staffed exclusively by Black people, out of a total of 608 police stations in South Africa. This represents 1,8% staffed by Coloureds, and 0,3% by Indians. Since these groups at present have a joint constitutional say in South Africa’s decision-making processes, it follows that they should be placed more and more under the supervision of policemen of their own colour group. We have already advanced these arguments in various debates in the past in respect of the English-speaking sector in South Africa, namely that they do not come forward and do their bit in the Police Force. We are now making the same appeal to the Coloureds and Indians of South Africa who have a say in this country, but who, respectively, staff exclusively 1,8% and 0,3% of the police stations in South Africa.
What about the White policemen?
They staff the rest.
At this stage the hon the Minister is under fire from the left-wing elements in South Africa. On the part of the CP we want to assure him of our support in his attempts to maintain law and order in South Africa. When he acts on the basis of logically grounded information which comes from well-trained and responsible officers in the Force, he has the support of all right-minded South Africans. If he in fact does not do this, he will be guilty of serious dereliction of duty. That is why I find it somewhat of a pity that the Kannemeyer Commission held its investigation in public. It caused a psychosis of suspicion in the public with regard to the Police. It has tarnished the image of the Police, who have to maintain law and order in these difficult times in which we live. I, personally, am aware of the long hours the police have to work, for example, on the East Rand, how little time they can spend with their families and loved ones, how they forfeit their leave and work overtime. It is therefore pre-eminently the task of every right-minded South African to build up and to protect the image of the police.
One will not hear a word about that from the PFP benches! [Interjections.]
Nevertheless, we must not allow ourselves to be daunted by critics who make the absurd allegation that South Africa is a police state. I read in the April issue of The Growth Investment Digest that for every thousand people in South Africa, there are only 1,4 policemen. [Interjections.] In the United Kingdom there are 2,2; Israel 3,5; New York 4,3; and Moscow 10.
Worst of all, however, is the fact that the hon the Minister’s head is being demanded by a fellow member of the coalition Cabinet and by some of his coalition partners in the other Houses. According to the State President this is not done in the Cabinet. All the same I do not know the State President as someone who would deal with this matter as if Rev Hendrickse had not made this demand in public and in the public Press. One shudders to think what the results would have been had the hon member for Water-berg, while he was still in the Cabinet, demanded a fellow Cabinet member’s head in public. In regard to this demand by Rev Hendrickse, however, we hear nothing.
The hon the Minister not only has to deal with criticism or demands that come from Rev Hendrickse, but also those that come from White fellow members of the Cabinet. In this connection I refer to the question I put to the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs with reference to the remark made by Ambassador Dr Worrall. The hon the Minister will remember that Ambassador Worrall said that the Police action in Uitenhage was unjustifiable. This was in the course of his statement. I asked the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs whether he agreed with Ambassador Worrall’s remarks in this connection. The hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs confirmed this.
In the debate on the Vote of the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I asked him to elaborate on this aspect. He did not, however, see fit to react to my request. I therefore want to hear from the hon the Minister of Law and Order now whether he is happy that an ambassador of this country made a public statement in Britain, in which he said that the Police action in Langa, Uitenhage, was unjustifiable. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I should like to respond to a few of the statements the hon member for Brakpan made. As far as his observations on the withdrawal of the SA Police from South West Africa are concerned, I think the hon the Minister will react to those. Therefore I shall not give the hon member a reply in that connection.
The hon member for Houghton claimed that the hon member for Barberton had said that stronger action should have been taken at Crossroads. The hon member for Brakpan defended the hon member for Barberton in this connection. I was not in the House during the debate in question, nor have I read that particular Hansard. I therefore cannot dispute the matter with the hon member for Brakpan. What I can say, though, is that the hon member for Meyerton stated in this House that if the late Genl Smuts and the late Dr Verwoerd had been in power at this stage, he was convinced that, as far as the unrest is concerned, the picture would have been completely different. It is clear that this implies that the late Genl Smuts and the late Dr Verwoerd, too, would have had Black people shot dead by the dozen.
Just listen to that, now! You are a Prog!
That is the only conclusion one can draw from the hon member for Meyerton’s statement. [Interjections.]
Reference was made to the Kannemeyer Commission, which heard evidence in public. Had this Commission sat behind closed doors, the CP, the PFP and the NRP would all have accused the Government of having something to hide. They would have said that this was the reason the Commission met behind closed doors.
It is the Government’s view that action should be taken against a policeman who commits an offence. This is also the view of the hon member for Waterberg. To substantiate my claim, I quote from his speech on 18 April (Hansard: Assembly, Vol 11, col 3734):
It is clear therefore that if a policeman, in terms of what is prescribed by the department, commits an offence, the hon member for Waterberg and the members of the CP would also take action against him.
The NP and the Government have nothing to hide from the public or from any of the hon members on the other side of the House.
The hon member for Waterberg and the hon member for Brakpan, too, supported the hon the Minister of Law and Order. They agree that he should maintain law and order in this country. We therefore owe a debt of gratitude. I think it is, after all, the duty—and this ought to be the case—of each hon member in the House to support the hon the Minister of Law and Order so that he can maintain law and order in this country.
The hon member for Waterberg said the Government was indeed maintaining law and order in the country. Later, however, the hon member for Lichtenburg said that the Government was not maintaining law and order and discipline. There is therefore, as far as this is concerned, a real difference of opinion between the leader of the CP and its second-in-command.
The hon member for Lichtenburg said, inter alia, that they would not leave the hon the Minister in the lurch. Allow me, however, to give him the assurance—the hon member for Sunnyside, the senior member of the CP who is at present in the House, is welcome to convey the message to him—that the NP will not leave the hon the Minister in the lurch either. It is, after all, the CP that has that kind of record, not the NP. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, may I put a question to the hon member?
Is the hon member prepared to answer a question?
Mr Chairman, if I have any time left at the end, I shall be happy to answer the hon member’s question, but not now.
The hon members for Jeppe and Kuruman say they will protect the SA Police. I want to say, however, that since 1948 the NP has afforded the SA Police all the protection it needs. The SA Police have never had a better deal than this one under the ministership of this Minister of Law and Order. Hon members are welcome to make enquiries among members of the police.
The hon member for Kuruman is not impressing anyone with his attempts to play Ministers off against one another. The hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs supports the hon the Minister of Law and Order, and in this respect I, too, must tell the hon member for Brakpan that we are tired of the CP’s attempts to run down the hon the Minister of Law and Order by implying that he is so conservative that he actually belongs with them. This was done by the hon member Mr Theunissen. The NP rejects this and assures that hon member that there is no difference in principle between the hon the Minister and any member of the NP.
Members of the CP sat together with the hon Minister of Law and Order in the caucus and they know very well that by doing this they only want to create a bad impression among the members of the SA Police. Because they know the hon the Minister of Law and Order is very popular with the SA Police, they are making an attempt to drum up support among the police by presenting the hon the Minister as a conservative, almost a CP type of person. Allow me to assure them that the hon the Minister of Law and Order belongs with the NP. If he happens to walk over to the CP, I am afraid the CP will come into power because then a great many members will also be walking over to them.
The hon member for Houghton mentioned Koevoet. I should like to remind her that the hon member for Sea Point spoke of Koevoet with the greatest praise and appreciation during a visit to those bases. I just wonder what the hon member for Houghton has been doing in the meantime since she heard about a year ago, that a bridge or something of that nature had been named after her, and was known as the Helen Suzman Bridge. Did she, in the meantime, write a letter to the Hon the Minister to ask him please to dissociate her name from the Koevoet bases, or does she accept it as a fine compliment that has come her way?
I want to come to the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central. He is not in the House, and the hon member for Albany is unfortunately not here either. I wanted to ask him to convey this to the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central. The hon member for Albany has just entered the Chamber and I therefore address to him the request to convey to the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central what I am about to say in regard to him. These two hon members have a particularly good relationship. The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central objected to Police action against “pirate taxis”, as they are generally known among us, on 17 April. He considered his argument for these offenders to be so important that he deviated from his prepared speech to make a fiery appeal on their behalf. He had been in touch with Genl Coetzee who made all the information available to him but he nevertheless made an appeal on behalf of these transgressors in the Black areas in the Eastern Cape. Let us have a look at a few events on that day in the Eastern Cape. Among other things, two buses suffered damage amounting to R60 500. I am asking now whether hon members of the PFP approve of that sort of behaviour. We know that the owners of the pirate taxis are behind the burning of the buses. In this way they force the Black people to make use of their services at exorbitant prices.
For example, in one day 19 buses in the Eastern Cape were set alight. These buses are the real means of transport for the people. If hon members of the PFP claim, through the hon member for Houghton by means of an interjection, that they can enter Black residential areas without police protection, why do they not go and make their fiery appeal there to the agitators and those who bum the buses and ask them to stop doing so? [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I will come to what I want to deal with in a moment, but before doing so, I should like to take the opportunity of placing on record my sincere appreciation to the divisional commissioner, officers and police personnel of Durban, and particularly the Point station in my constituency, for the unfailing courtesy and the action which they have always taken when I have raised matters of concern in my own constituency. I believe that goes for all members, and certainly for all the hon members in this party who have all had the same experience.
The Police go further than merely doing their job. We all receive what one may call “crank complaints” which one has to follow up. One points out to the Police that one does not go along with the complaint but asks whether they have any factual evidence and they even investigate that kind of complaint and come back with a report on the full picture. I might add that even complaints against their own personnel are treated in this way. I had one complaint which was investigated and a docket was opened to investigate a charge of defeating the ends of justice which has been forwarded to the public prosecutor. Therefore, whether the complaint is against criminals, whether the complaint comes from people with imagined problems, or whether it is somebody within the Police themselves who has done wrong, they have acted on it. I want to place my appreciation on record for their commitment to duty.
We are conducting this debate against a background of riots, murder, arson and lawlessness— I do not need to labour the point. We are also awaiting the finding of the Kannemeyer Commission where there has been conflicting evidence. Therefore I believe it would be wrong and irresponsible to try to pre-empt that finding and come to our own conclusion, particularly where there has been an open inquiry and everyone knows what the evidence has been. I believe this calls for the highest measure of restraint and of responsibility from every hon member of this House.
I am sorry that the hon member for Houghton did not feel that way. This applies to all of us and, I may say, particularly to the hon the Minister. I hope that when he replies to the provocation and the attack by the hon member for Houghton, he will not shoot from the hip as he is sometimes inclined to do but that he will do a little “vas-byt”. I hope he will remember that what we say in this House can have an influence beyond its walls. There is an emotive situation where the Police are under tremendous strain and tension and face tremendous provocation. They face the provocation of riots and lawlessness, of stones and petrol bombs being thrown at them. Here the hon the Minister is facing the provocation of the hon member for Houghton. They are not exactly the same form of provocation but, as he expects from his police to face provocation and keep their cool, he will, I am sure, set the example himself and keep his own cool.
What I fear is that when we speak here, if we give any indication too far one way or the other, we can face problems. If one expresses sympathy and understanding or regret over the background situation which gave rise to frustration and to unrest, one has to be careful that one does it without giving any suggestion, implied or otherwise, of condonation of the violence and unrest. Equally, when we condemn it—as we in this party do—and when we demand that law and order be restored, we must remember that blind loyalty is as dangerous as blind criticism in that it can then imply the green light—particularly to those who have suffered, whose homes have been burnt, whose next of kin have been killed or injured—to take the law into their own hands. We must demonstrate to the Police Force, of whom we expect restraint and responsibility, that we too can exercise restraint and responsibility in dealing with the situation.
There will be a time for postmortems. We are going to have a debate on the findings of the Kannemeyer Commission and, if action proves to be justified, it will be taken. The two priorities now, however, are to restore law and order, to support the people who are doing the job with the men and with the equipment and with the vehicles that they need, with the object not only of restoring law and order but also of enabling them to protect the innocent. The rioters must know that South Africa will not tolerate lawlessness and that it will be firmly stamped out.
We must wipe out any idea that by sympathy and understanding of the political background which may have enabled the inciters to exploit a situation we support the use of violence in the political context. Those people must be brought to court. Here I want to sound a warning. I believe we are going to have to look—it is not this hon Minister’s responsibility—at the penalties for public violence and for all other similar things that are going on. I say this because I believe that the punishment must be an efficient deterrent, that the perpetrators of these deeds must not be seen as misguided young innocents who have been led astray and that they should therefore only be given a warning or a fine of R10, which will probably be paid through secret funds of the SA Council of Churches or UDF, funds which come from abroad. They must be made to understand that South Africa will not tolerate violence, arson and murder, and that the punishment they will receive when they become involved in actions of this nature will show them up for what they really are—objects not of heroism but of contempt for what they have done and for the way in which they have done it.
I also believe that in the same way anyone who oversteps the line, even if he happens to be a policeman, anyone who loses his self-control, who breaks under the strain of confrontation and provocation and acts wrongly as a result, will also not have his actions condoned. He must be dealt with in terms of the regulations and justice must be seen to be done.
I do not have time to complete what I want to say. I will nevertheless begin to say it, Mr Chairman. There are two things that worry me. Firstly, there seems to be something wrong with our intelligence information. There seems to be something wrong which does not enable us to know who is stirring up the trouble, who are the faceless ringleaders, who are the people who are the inciters. If we knew it we would be able to bring them to book and to deal with them in open court. Why is our intelligence either reluctant to inform us about this or unable to come to light with the evidence necessary in order to deal with those people? I should like to see them being brought to court and dealt with.
The other thing that worries me has been dealt with. Therefore I will not expand on it. I am referring now to the training we witnessed at Maleoskop and the videos we watched there about the unrest situation. What is being done to ensure that small contingents of police do not get into situations in which they are in danger and in which the situation cannot be controlled except by using the ultimate in violence of sharp ammunition? [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Durban Point must forgive me if I do not react to his speech. I must say that I was not with him all the time.
When I finished my previous speech, I asked the hon members of the PFP whether they, under the circumstances, did not want to take this opportunity to go into the Black areas of unrest and talk to the Black agitators, since they are now depending on that, and believe they will be able to visit Black residential areas without a Police escort.
I should like, however, to return to the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central. What is this hon member doing? He is asking that the owners of the pirate taxis, who were arrested, be allowed to pay a spot fine “so that they can get back to their jobs and transport people to their work tomorrow”. This is a direct appeal for offenders to be set free so that they can commit the same offence again.
On 17 April—the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central selected this day as an example to put so strong a case for these offenders—within the space of 18 hours, damage amounting to R369 100 was caused. This involved buildings and vehicles—inter alia, buses—which were damaged. I have already mentioned the two buses that were damaged, one alone being worth R60 000. The hon member, however, still argues in favour of these offenders in this House. Then surely he is advocating lawlessness in the country? [Interjections.] The hon member is ill-disposed towards the SA Police. He is ill-disposed towards these people who protect his voters and other voters in the Eastern Cape—and the voters in Newton Park, too. In the light of their actions these hon members will, however, be dealt with in Newton Park on Wednesday.
Does the hon member realize that the houses of a large number of policemen in the Eastern Cape have already been set alight? Have the hon member and the hon member for Albany as yet tried to determine who these people are who attack and injure the Police? Have he and the hon member for Walmer, with whom he is so fond of keeping in touch telephonically, made a call to find out the condition of Constable Amber-Smith who suffered an injury to his left temple when he was hit by a stone? I do not think these hon members are even aware of this case. I do not think they will make any enquiries about it either. [Interjections.]
Community services are being disrupted as a result of these agitators. [Interjections.] Bread-delivery vehicles which bring food to the people in these Black residential areas are being set alight. The overhead telephone Unes are being cut, machinery and vehicles responsible for sewerage and water supplies are being destroyed. However, one does not hear a word about this. Hon members of the PFP probably do not realize that this could create unhygienic conditions and cause disease. It could even blow over to the White residential areas. I wonder what the electorate is going to do with the PFP on Wednesday at the polls because they, too, are part of this area of the Eastern Cape.
They will send the whole lot of them packing!
I am sure they will crush the PFP, if they do not first send them packing, as the hon the Minister says.
The NP stands by the SA Police and will not condemn them as long as they act within the laws of the country and in accordance with the prescriptions of the department. The PFP stands by the transgressors, as I have shown. They oppose the Police at the expense of their own electorate. [Interjections.]
In conclusion I should like to make a last observation with regard to the hon member for Durban Central. I hope he has kept his court reports and statutes because senior members in his caucus are making use of him. They have exploited his inexperience by leading him to the slaughter. He will not be back here after the next election. I think it advisable for him not to get rid of his court reports and statutes because he will definitely have to go into practice once again. As I see it, the question now is whether the hon member for Berea is going to brief him again or whether the hon member for Green Point is being primed to be the next lamb to be led to the slaughter by the PFP.
Mr Chairman, I am happy to follow up on what was said by the hon member who has just resumed his seat. I should initially like to highlight, for a moment, the position of the hon the Minister in the light of present circumstances. I want to assure him that the country is behind him as regards the methods and the steps being adopted to suppress the unrest in this country.
We are dealing with subtle undermining as well as derogatory statements directed at the hon the Minister. It can be observed that wherever a Minister takes effective action in the interest of the country he is discredited by the people whom it does not suit to have him be efficient and successful. This is why it is of great importance for the country to take cognizance of this.
The PFP wants to discredit him personally because they know his calculated actions do not suit them. The CP, on the other hand, wants to praise him for a purpose it wants to abuse by creating an impression in the public mind that when it perhaps comes to govern the country …
What do you say about the maize price?
I do not owe the hon member any comment as far as my actions in connection with the maize industry are concerned.
The CP wants to praise the hon the Minister so that when they come to govern this country they can gauge Police action by how many bodies there are once the unrest has been suppressed. This is also an abuse of the goodwill and the order the hon the Minister is maintaining.
The hon member for Durban point is unfortunately walking out of the Council Chamber now. I should like to dwell briefly on one aspect to which he referred, and this deals with our information service’s so-called inefficiency in identifying the people behind the unrest or the agitators. I want to ask the hon member whether no arrests have taken place. Are there no hearings at the moment of people who were identified by this very intelligence service? I shall leave it at that.
I should like to turn to the circumstances surrounding the unrest occuring particularly at schools. It is important that we take cognizance of the fact that, particularly at the rural schools where there has recently been unrest, those children were indoctrinated by the external elements. In Parys the indoctrinators came from Vereeniging to incite the children to riot. In Bothaville it has been proved that pupils were planted there who had been transferred from Welkom to go to school there. Kombis full of children were brought to give the local children training in what action to take. One schoolboy, who admitted that he had been present at the unrest in Welkom last year, was arrested.
We are therefore dealing with calculated indoctrination which is aimed at creating, particularly in schools where the Black pupils in their own interests urgently need education, a discrediting element which will not only embarrass the Government and pose problems, but will also indoctrinate those Black children who urgently need education to assure their future. Surely it is fatal to have well-meaning Black parents who would dearly like their children, in their own interests, to receive a good education for the future, indoctrinated by elements that are inspired by the ANC and the UDF, as has been shown on various occasions?
I have a lot of sympathy with the Police who have to control and deal with this unrest. They are working under extreme provocation; they are working in conditions where they are provoked in a way that is unparalled in the history of this country. These people are now being said, particularly by our “granny for criminals”, not to have acted correctly in the suppression of these elements. A small minority group …
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: May the hon member refer to me in that disgraceful fashion?
Order! What did the hon member for Parys say with reference to the hon member for Houghton?
Mr Chairman, I referred to the “granny for criminals”. If the hon member thinks the cap fits, I shall withdraw it.
The hon member must withdraw it unconditionally.
Mr Chairman, I withdraw it unconditionally.
Order! The hon member may proceed.
In our Black communities we are dealing with small minority groups which form a sort of Mafia in that they rob well-meaning people of their salaries and then, should those people go and lay a charge that they have been robbed, threaten to kill their children or their wives, or cut off their ears. We cannot accept this sort of behaviour in this country and we must take drastic action against those elements. It will be necessary in the future for the Police to act even more effectively so that those Black people who want to work here in peace and in friendship and who want to earn a living here, may also enjoy protection.
It is not going to be an easy task for the Police to eliminate these indoctrinating elements under these circumstances. I want to point out to the public at large that it is the duty of each and every one of them to come forward and point out people and to make statements about people who undermine law and order in this way. Only then will the Police be able to maintain law and order in such a way that South Africa will once again be the country that we all, including the Black people who live here in peace and friendship, want it to be.
Mr Chairman, I want to refer to the extraordinary speech made by the hon member for Krugersdorp earlier by asking whether he believes that one should not say a thing in South Africa unless it has first been said here in the House. If he does say that, he is sillier than I ever imagined he would be.
I want to return to the hon the Minister and ask him about the recruitment of spies on certain English-language campuses. I am aware of five first-year students at UCT who were approached with an offer of R400 per month if they would spy on the activities of the Special Projects Committee of the SRC. I have been advised of one person at Wits who has been approached, and I have no doubt that there are more. I have also been advised that in most cases threatening attitudes are adopted by the persons who contact the individuals and students and that they purport to come from the Police. Will the Minister tell us what is going on? Will he explain to the House what he hopes to achieve by wasting taxpayers’ money in this way?
I want now to refer to the report on Police conduct during township protests compiled and published by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. It is a highly disturbing document, thoughtfully prepared and well presented. It details a litany of reckless, indiscriminate or wanton violence which leaves one with a feeling of almost total despair. Like my colleague the hon member for Houghton I wish to make it absolutely clear that I am not anti-police. I am anti those who abuse their position as policemen and in so doing give the entire force a bad name.
Who are you trying to bluff?
I just want to put it on record. The hon the Minister knows I am not anti-police. I am not trying to drag the name of the SA Police through the mud. I want those who have brought the Force into disrepute to be brought to book and thrown out of the Police. I value greatly the policemen who look after us here at Parliament and, indeed, those who protect life and limb throughout the country. The hon the Minister knows that I am pleased that he has established a temporary police station at Rose-bank in my constituency because a police presence is needed to protect innocent and harmless people against gangsters, robbers and those who would harm others. I can also understand that from a policeman’s point of view it is important that the Minister is seen to be protecting his men. This is important for the morale of the force. However, they should also be aware that if they overstep the mark he is going to come down on them like a ton of bricks. This is not the impression that exists at the present time. It is time that the hon the Minister did something about it, and this is one of the reasons why I support the amendment moved by the hon member for Houghton.
Are you saying I am not hard enough with policemen?
That is the impression one gains.
When the Bishops’ report was published, the Minister indicated that it was being investigated, and I hope he is going to advise what action, if any, has been taken in connection with the allegations made in the report. The Bishops made it quite clear in the introduction to the report that they considered it important and urgent to make the report public as soon as possible in the hope that it would contribute to halting the police activities described in the report. One hopes that this has been the case. They also make it quite clear in the introduction that they are aware that others, besides the police, are engaged in illegal and violent activities. They place on record that policemen have, in many instances, protected the innocent from criminals and hooligans. They claim that of the estimated 150 deaths, at least eight were known to have been killed by persons other than the police.
Like the Bishops, I acknowledge that some persons and groups sometimes exploit the situation for their own criminal ends. No doubt there were times when the police were provoked or needed to protect themselves. That, however, cannot justify unwarranted or unlawful conduct on the part of the police.
I agree with the Bishops that more is expected of the police as they are meant to be specially selected, trained, equipped, organized and paid to uphold the law and to protect all in society. However, are they better selected, trained and equipped? Has what has been happening lately in the Eastern Cape not indicated that all the so-called sophisticated methods of training and equipping had been ignored?
Let us confine ourselves to the unrest in the Vaal Triangle at this stage. Why were those policemen not properly equipped with riot-control gear? Why do we not use plastic shields or visors more often when dealing with these situations? I am always amazed that in the UK or other European countries the police appear able to deal with crowds without shooting or applying the sjambok. Why is that? Why is it that a team of British bobbies can keep an unruly crowd under control by simply turning their horses’ backsides into the faces of the mob? [Interjections.] All last year, during the miners’ strike, which was one of the most unsettling periods of unrest the British have ever experienced, we saw scenes on our TV screens almost nightly of the bobbies controlling hundreds, almost thousands, of strikers without the violence we have become accustomed to. Why is it so different here?
Then I must refer, as my colleague did, to the ridiculous way in which SATV attempts to brainwash South African viewers. Whenever there is unrest in the townships, we are invariably shown scenes of Blacks throwing stones, burning shops or looting overturned delivery trucks. The same evening viewers throughout the rest of the world are usually shown similar scenes except that, in addition, they often see policemen beating up Black women and children.
What do you expect them to show?
The hon member must just listen; perhaps he will then get some sense into his head. What a ridiculous situation! Who do they think they are bluffing? Why do they not attempt a fair reflection of the situation? Is it too much to ask for an objective view to be taken?
Order! I do not think the hon member can expect the hon the Minister of Law and Order to reply to those questions.
I accept that, Sir. I have made my point. [Interjections.]
The Bishops record their regret that, instead of being accepted as protectors of the people, the police are now regarded by many people in the Black townships as disturbers of the peace and perpetrators of violent crime. To my great sorrow I have to agree with this statement. As the Bishops record, the overwhelming impression created by the affidavits they assembled was that the police behaviour in the townships resembled that of an occupying force controlling enemy territory by force without regard for the civilian population and without regard for the law. Why do I say this? I say it for two reasons. The first is the obvious one, which has been mentioned, regarding funerals. If the police stay away from the funerals, they are conducted in a peaceful manner; if the police appear, they provoke violence and bloodshed. It must be abundantly clear that their presence is not required.
The second reason is more specific and concerns a young national serviceman who spoke to me after his experiences in Kathlehong last year. He was called up for a camp and spent most of the time in the township accompanied by two or three young policemen. A group of national servicemen, together with the policemen, were returning from a patrol in the back of a truck when one of the policemen decided it would be fun, I am told, to shoot a tear-gas cannister into a playground of children they were passing at the time. The children appeared to be very young—about eight years old, he recalls—and as the teargas cannister arced towards them, the children scattered in the direction of the three exits in an attempt to avoid the effects of the tear smoke. Apart from the effect on the children, imagine what this young man feels like. He complains that the young policemen seem to lack discipline.
Another incident he related to me concerns “playing cowboy”, as he called it. This entails chasing people all over the township. On one occasion a bakkie loaded with liquor, apparently headed for a shebeen, was chased for some considerable time before the driver stopped the vehicle and emerged from the cab with his hands held above his head. After he had stopped, a rubber bullet was shot at the vehicle in an apparent attempt to intimidate the driver. While the driver was standing next to the bakkie with his hands above his head, one of the policemen jumped off the truck and started to beat the Black man in such a violent manner that the national servicemen had to pull him off. Is this what we send our sons to the army for? [Interjections.] The two instances I have described are a disgraceful account of conduct that is designed to bedevil race relations.
Why were they not reported?
They have been reported. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Johannesburg North has just come to spread a load of gossip here. One may ask him why he did not report it because I dispute that there is any proof of it.
Hon members of the PFP entered very docilely today. We know why they have suddenly become so tractable—they bumped their heads against the public in the Eastern Cape. They have come here with feeble attempts of such gossip but their spokesmen are absent today and they are very quiet—we know why.
The hon member for Johannesburg North objected to the presence of Security Police on campuses and the like. Is he not aware of what takes place on campuses of universities? The campus of the University of the North, for example, is closed at present because very serious activities were afoot there. Acid was thrown at one of the lecturers there by students supposedly because the standard was too high. Is the hon member unaware that at White universities in South Africa people are involved in underground activities? It is essential in the interest of the security of South Africa that the Police be well informed on everything taking place there.
It is also unfair of the hon member to equate our situation with that in England for instance. I do not know whether he has seen an incited mob in South Africa; one should question the Police, who have borne the brunt, about it. Some members of the Police have even lost their lives. To compare that to a situation in England is unfair.
Today we also listened to the hon member for Brakpan. He should take time to speak to one of his leaders, Mr Jaap Marais, because Mr Jaap Marais objects to the fact that policemen of colour are armed; this supposedly holds a danger. Now the hon member comes and says we should have more Coloured policemen in service at stations. It is a fact that we require more Coloured policemen; I think we require a stronger Police Force to deal with the situation in South Africa. Somebody said it was a serious situation. Naturally it is a serious situation and the Police are the people who are the target in such a case.
As regards the situation in South Africa, I want to say a type of civil war among Black people is in progress already. One should see on whose side the PFP is in this civil war; it is not on the side of the moderates. The moment Chief Buthelezi emerged in an attempt to control these matters, the PFP attacked him. As regards the CP, I think it is against all Blacks who do not wish to say “master” or who do not wish to maintain a relationship of “master-man”. We, the moderates, the NP, should not be ashamed …
The quitters (“hensoppers”).
We are not quitters (“hensoppers”). I say we should not be ashamed that we are on the side of moderate Blacks in South Africa; we should not hesitate to be openly on their side; we should not hestitate to assist them openly in the struggle. We should do it actively; we should protect and assist those people. We should help the Police to protect them because our future depends on this. We should establish a fund in this country for Black people who have lost their houses, who have lost their cars and who have lost their possessions. This is the way we moderate Whites should assist these people. Do hon members know what it means to any Black man to lose all his possessions? He cannot replace them. If these people require protection, we and the public should assist the Police because the Police are also threatened. Black policemen are the people whose houses are burnt down and whose possessions are destroyed. We of the public have a duty to support these people and other Black moderates like councillors in various towns.
We in South Africa should ask ourselves: Who are the intimidators? They are a small minority of Blacks which takes people in tow and takes the lives of others by creating a state of chaos in Black towns. This has to be stopped. We in South Africa should see to it that we create the means.
Now I should like to ask hon members of the Official Opposition why they explain in that little Breakthrough newspaper of theirs what one should do if one is attacked with smoke bombs or tear gas? Why? I wish to suggest that some of the hon members of the Official Opposition are on the side of intimidators within South Africa. [Interjections.] They are on the side of intimidators. They are in the vanguard. They are the protectors of intimidators.
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: The hon member is accusing the Official Opposition of intimidation. [Interjections.]
Order! Will the hon member for Vryheid just repeat what he said?
Sir, I said the actions of these people out there, for example the MPC for Walmer and other hon members of that party, forced me to make the remark that I had obtained the impression that they were on the side of intimidators in South Africa. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Vryheid may proceed.
I really do not wish to mention all the things done by intimidators. Those people are murderers, they are perpetrators of violence and they must be brought to book. Those hon members should stand and declare that they are opposed to intimidators and that they range themselves alongside moderate Black people in South Africa. That is what we expect of them but it is not what they do.
I say every city of Black people here in South Africa should get its own home guards so that the people can defend themselves. The Defence Force should stay within Black areas as long as there is unrest so that it can protect these people. The people tell us they want protection. There should also be temporary police bases within these Black towns and they should remain there until peace and order is restored. These ringleaders should be brought to book. One cannot set other people alight and murder them in South Africa without being brought to justice. The PFP should be prevented from driving a wedge between the Police and the Black people. The CP should be prevented from driving a wedge between the Government and the Police. [Interjections.] The Police are the friends of law-abiding citizens of South Africa, Black and White. The Police should provide protection to informants who furnish them with information. There should be active protection for councillors.
Support for and contact with local authorities are vital. White local authorities should make contact with Black local authorities to encourage and strengthen them in their difficult task. A change of attitude should occur among Whites in South Africa—in the interests of the Whites! We should cease regarding all Black people as enemies of the Whites—that is untrue. The vast majority of Black people are not on the side of intimidators in South Africa.
As I have said, an alliance should be created among moderates and we in South Africa should not be ashamed of standing actively by moderate Black people. I am decidedly not ashamed of it.
Mr Chairman, I do not wish to comment very much on the speech just delivered except to say that anyone who says that the members of the Official Opposition are on the side of the intimidators is guilty of telling an infamous lie. [Interjections.] What I particularly did not like, however, was the fact that when you called that hon member to order, Sir, he changed the words he had uttered and thus you did not pull him up. It is not your fault, Mr Chairman, but I make the allegation that he was not honest with this House. [Interjections.]
Section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act is a powerful tool in the hands of the Government.
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: May the hon member for Sandton say with reference to the hon member for Vryheid that he was not honest with this House? [Interjections.]
Order! I asked the hon member for Vryheid to repeat what he had said. He repeated his words, and I and every hon member in this House have to accept his word. The hon member for Sandton may proceed.
It is a powerful tool in the hands of the Government. It is the section that empowers the Police to demand that a person disclose information before a magistrate if they suspect that it has a bearing on an offence, a commission of an offence or even a suspected offence. In recent months this section of the Act has been used largely to compel editors and journalists to disclose sources of published material, to hand over photographs of gatherings, of marches and meetings, and even to hand in personal notebooks for official scrunity.
While journalists’ protests have been strident, I think that the layman has had some difficulty in comprehending why. After all, if a crime has been committed why should the Press wish to sabotage bringing criminals to justice? Of course, that is not the issue at all. If it was a straightforward matter of crime detection, there was never any difficulty in obtaining information from the Press. All the newspapers correctly see it as their duty to assist the police wherever they can and wherever possible in detecting and bringing criminals to book.
The problem arises, not in the case of ordinary crime but rather when possible offences, alleged or suspected, such as for instance the presence of certain persons at a gathering, a meeting or march take place that are of a politically controversial nature. However, what is exacerbating the problem is the fact that late last year and in the early months of this year, section 205 procedures have been used not as a last resort but, in fact, as a first resort.
There are grave disadvantages and consequences for a free Press if this procedure is indiscriminately used. Allow me, Sir, to list but a few. Firstly, if journalists or editors refuse to comply with the demand issued in terms of section 205, they are rendered criminals themselves and they are subject to imprisonment. If however these editors do comply and hand in the documentation required, their credibility and impartiality among the communities involved in any unrest will be destroyed, and independent and objective reporting will be severely inhibited.
No independent Press person will ever acquiesce to becoming yet another arm of Police investigation. To quote Raymond Louw in a recent article, he said:
A second deleterious side of things is that the Press will more and more be seen as a player in the political drama and not as an independent observer and reporter. This could imperil the very lives of reporters and in particular of photographers in volatile situations. In the end result it could lead to important events not being reported upon at all.
There is a third argument to voice. Who, I ask, will speak to reporters if it is known that whatever is said, will in due course become the property of the police? There must be a confidentiality between the reporter and whoever is disclosing information. If reporters are forced to tell the Police all that they hear, very soon those reporters will have almost nothing to tell anybody. I quote Louw again in the same article where reference is made to confidentiality. He says:
What am I asking of the hon the Minister? I am not asking that the Police refrain from soliciting the assistance of the Press in their legitimate function of crime prevention and crime detection, not at all. The Press do not support crime, they do not support violence, nor do they support revolution. However, there are critical areas of interest involved affecting the newspapers’ standing and their reputation in the community as a whole. The Press believes in the rule of law and nothing for instance would preclude newspapers from making available to both defence and prosecution teams copies of published material or photographs. On the other hand, photographers frequently take large numbers of photographs. The editors would strongly object to being open to suspicion that their photographers are taking some pictures for publication and others to be handed over on demand to the police.
What I am asking the hon the Minister is, firstly that the Police reconsider the several subpoenas which are already pending—issued in terms of section 205—and, secondly, that in future the police should exercise the greatest circumspection in the invoking of section 205. It should never be used to legitimize official fishing expeditions, for if this continues and if all the subpoenas are allowed to stand and more are issued every time there is unrest in this country, a State-Press conflict will develop. There is no doubt about that. If that conflict between the Press and the State does develop, it will ensure that editors are turned into criminals as will journalists. It will be a conflict which will destroy the credibility of the free Press in South Africa and it will serve to dry up the flow of legitimate news to which the public is entitled—none of which consequences promote the cause of democracy in this country. So, I earnestly ask the hon the Minister to give my appeal his most serious consideration.
Mr Chairman, the theme of the hon member for Sandton was chiefly the relationship between the Police and the Press.
I want to put only one question to him: Who is to rule the country, the Press or the Government?
I should very much like to associate myself with speeches of hon members on this side of the House, especially as regards their comments on members of the Official Opposition. I also want to say that, in spite of PFP pronouncements on the renunciation of violence, its actions create the opposite impression. In spite of everything its members say, their carelessness of the maintenance of law and order creates the impression that their pronouncements are only lip service.
Mr Chairman, as regards “the PFP’s pronouncements on violence”, is the hon member suggesting we support violence?
Order! Will the hon member just tell me what he said? I was busy with the Whip.
Mr Chairman, I was referring to the PFP’s pronouncements on the renunciation of violence. It is a fact that its members renounce violence but their actions create the opposite impression. They should therefore not hold it against us if we type them as spokesmen for radicals. Their viciousness towards the Police will cost them dearly but I want to leave it at that because Newton Park will settle their account finally on Wednesday.
I wish to steer the debate into calmer waters. In my wanting to say a few words on the role of the policeman in rural areas, my thoughts involuntarily stray to my childhood. I call to mind the mounted police sergeant with his shiny boots and leggings and his equally glossy horse and equipment paying his monthly visit to the farm on patrol through the district to ensure that everything was in order and to ascertain whether there were any complaints. This image made an indelible impression on me as a child because to me it was the embodiment of good authority and good order—such as the PFP does not desire. I can still clearly see how Sergeant Van Eck—I am mentioning his name because he is still alive and living in my electoral division—dismounted neatly, erect and with dignity, from his equally neat horse, greeted us amicably, enquired after our welfare, took out his patrol sheet from his saddlebag and had the register signed in proof that he had made his rounds.
Many anecdotes can be told about these men and I believe, if the hon the Minister had the opportunity, he himself would tell us about the legendary Sergeant Potgieter with his white horse which was capable of smelling out the “skokiaan” for his master.
Times and circumstances have changed. The mounted policeman has disappeared from the scene and has had to make way for more sophisticated service. Just as to other young people, the twinkling lights of the city are enticing to the young constable too because he believes that there are better opportunities and better possibilities of promotion waiting for him in the city.
If I may be permitted to direct a word of good advice to these young constables, however, it will be the following: Do not overlook the country districts and do not undervalue them—they are well worth a sojourn. He can use the peace of the country to complete his studies and prepare himself for the days ahead. The experience and maturity the young constable can acquire in his early formative years in the country can be of inestimable value to him in later life. He can ask his more senior colleagues—they will testify to this.
In the country the role of the policeman is manifested over a broad spectrum. Beside his primary functions, the preservation of internal security and the investigation and prevention of crime, as a public servant he or she is very closely concerned in the administration of justice in some places. From the nature of the case it involves him in the weal and woe of all population groups and the policeman is perhaps the person above all others who knows and understands all cultural and population groups.
Furthermore the policeman is extremely predisposed to controlling and serving society which is why he is closely involved in church, school, social and sports associations where his training and talents are often applied to the benefit of a community. Often he is the father figure who is applied to for advice, who has to settle family disputes, guarantee the safety of everyone and ensure that all are taken up into the cohesive whole of community life. In other words, the orderly survival of the rural community is closely connected with the role the policeman has to play.
Because the community is so far flung, police service is decentralized and includes countless functions which actually belong with other institutions. His all-pervading presence lends itself well to this and intensifies the image of authority in the community. Public institutions and the services involved in this include the following amongst others. I shall mention a few: The Department of Home Affairs as regards enquiries in connection with travel documents, serving notices for maintenance and registration of national servicemen and voters; the Department of Finance as regards enquiries in connection with taxpayers as well as customs and excise duty; the Department of Health and Welfare, to which help is furnished with mentally disturbed patients and tracing of debtors; and the Department of Justice, to which aid is provided in tracing deserters on parole.
We also think of duties of the public prosecutor, of clerks of the court, of interpreters, of the Department of Agriculture to which help is furnished as regards the importing of livestock, hides, horns and meat products, as well as the division of Central Statistical Services of the Department of Constitutional Development and Planning as regards the tracing of owners of business undertakings, industrial and wage censuses and so on. Then there are also local authorities who use the Police in connection with enquiries over public transport permits and trading licences. These are only a few of the many services the Police carry out on behalf of public authorities. Yet hon members of the Opposition Parties do not have a single good word for our Police Force.
Regardless of the diversity of police functions, the primary objective remains the prevention and investigation of misdemeanours. The degree of success the Police achieves in this is a subject in itself for which we unfortunately do not have time at present but for which we should like to express a word of hearty thanks and appreciation to this Force. The Police certainly play a most important role in establishing a feeling of security and safety among rural communities. Police patrols in the country remain the most important and the most desirable functional police methods of maintaining law and order.
This most important police service is embodied in crime prevention patrols, border patrols, waylaying, clearing-up and observation services and roadblocks. The fact that the Police can determine the nature and extent as well as the time and place gives it a most important psychological advantage in the perpetual fight against crime.
A well-ordered and happy community is practically unthinkable without the help of an effective police component. That is why we from the country districts should like to pay tribute to those policemen and women who make an exceptional contribution in achieving just this in our society.
Mr Chairman, I wish to start by referring to the hon members of the Official Opposition who up to the present have taken part in this debate. It appears to me they find it very difficult to distinguish between misconduct and essential action by the Police.
When one reads the annual report of the Department of Law and Order, one finds statistics in connection with action arising from misconduct by the Police. Through the years the SA Police Force has always exhibited the courage and conviction to act against its own people when it was sure that the people concerned were guilty of misconduct. Neither has it ever tried to conceal or disguise this. It is prepared to make it known by way of statistics in its annual report which is published for everyone to read.
I believe hon members of the Official Opposition had better take note that the SA Police Force will in future continue to have the courage, where necessary, to act against its own people if there are those among them who are guilty of misconduct.
Nevertheless we should learn to make the distinction. We should not simply label every act by the Police as misconduct. We should be able to distinguish and when the Police act in the interests of the people of this country—also in the interests of the Police itself, which has to guarantee the safety of other people—we should not come forward with labels of misconduct either. Then it is certainly essential action for which we should praise and honour its members. With that I conclude my argument as far as it concerns the Official Opposition.
Further, I wish to direct a word at the hon member for Losberg. It really surprised me because it seemed as if the hon member had really taken trouble to ascertain what every hon member of the Conservative Party had said in this House in defence of the SA Police Force in order to find ulterior motives in that with which to belabour the CP if this party should supposedly defend the SA Police Force for certain ulterior political motives. I want to put it to the hon member for Losberg that the CP has no ulterior motive in defending the SA Police because we are convinced the SA Police should be defended when necessary. [Interjections.]
I also wish to say to the hon member for Parys that I think it a disgraceful remark to say that the CP merely wants to see how many corpses are left behind after action has been taken.
Louis, you must repudiate him.
Honestly, I think it a shame for that hon member to have made such a statement while he knows the CP has no ulterior motives when it acts or when it praises the Police. We have never spoken in praise of violence or looked to see how many corpses could be left behind. Nevertheless I wish to say to the hon member for Parys that we are concerned to know how many corpses of the SA Police are left behind when it is concerned in such a skirmish because that also has to be prevented. We are not prepared to leave the corpses of the SA Police lying to be counted.
I wish to say to the hon member for Vryheid that if he has nothing but bad things to say about the CP, he would do better to keep quiet. [Interjections.]
When one reads the report of the SA Police, there is something which immediately touches one’s heart and that is that 48 members died in the service of the SA Police Force and in the service of this country and its inhabitants. They were people who gave their lives in carrying out their duty. This makes it very clear that the danger of being killed exists in carrying out the duties of the SA Police; that in their action its members place their lives at risk. What do they have to deal with? They have to deal with robbers with no regard for human life, with murderers, burglars, rebels and terrorists. Time and again when the SA Police is confronted by this type of offender, it is not only the life of the one committing the crime—that rebel or terrorist—which is at stake, but also that of the member of the SA Police. I think the time has come for us to have a little appreciation of this fact, namely that the South African policeman is prepared to sacrifice his life. [Interjections.]
Sir, I did not allege that the hon member for Losberg did not say this, but if he would sometimes merely use his head a little and consider before he spoke, it would be better. Now he is again professing that CP members think they are the only people who realize there is danger and that police are prepared to put their lives at risk. He can do what he likes, however, because I shall continue to say this as my party’s children are also in that blue uniform. I can also defend my people, just as the hon member for Losberg has the right to do so. [Interjections.] He should therefore not sit there and make interjections as if he does not approve of my defending the SA Police when its members are in a dangerous situation. [Interjections.] He is naturally jealous of this! He is afraid that it may possibly have adverse effects for him. If he perhaps has ulterior motives when praising the Police, I merely wish to say to him that we have no ulterior motives when we do so. We are genuine in our action towards the SA Police. [Interjections.]
Every person in this country lays claim to being able to live in tranquillity, peace and safety but the eyes of each of those people—whether he is in the Official Opposition or sitting in whatever party or out there—laying claim to tranquillity, peace and safety are fixed on the SA Police to ensure that very tranquillity, peace and safety. He does not rely on anyone else; the SA Police has to ensure this. When we all go to bed peacefully, it is those people who are separated from their families for hours, guaranteeing us that peace and ensuring that we can live in tranquillity. I believe we should show a little appreciation for that. I wish to make a specific appeal to members of the Official Opposition Party to be less critical as regards this enormous service which the Police furnishes when they are all sleeping peacefully at night and when they know it is the Police who protect them and guarantee their safety while those men are not resting—they have to sacrifice their time and lives to make conditions safe for us in this country.
The one matter which greatly concerns me is that I think the State President acted over-hastily when he appointed the judicial commission of inquiry into the happenings at Uitenhage. I say this because, as far as I am concerned, the SA Police acted within its rights and has to be protected at all costs. We should not create a psychosis of suspicion round it. We should not permit it to be placed under suspicion in its action. Any form of negativity towards the side of the SA Police places it under suspicion but we should avoid this at all costs because the lives of those people are at risk every day. We dare not permit them to be made soft and powerless in that important action of theirs.
This brings me to a most important matter and that is that we should not permit the SA Police to be humiliated by schoolchildren in Black residential areas by having stones and taunts hurled at them. In that respect we should now give the SA Police teeth. I wish to ask the hon the Minister his opinion on the reinstitution of family courts among the Blacks so that they themselves can deal with these naughty children of theirs who are provoking and humiliating the SA Police. The world will descend on me but I shall say it nevertheless: I also want to know whether the time has not come to remove the Police from that humiliation by schoolchildren by giving them each a good sjambok with which to give those children a sound trouncing. That will be the end of their naughtiness and they will learn to behave in future and not to be the plaything of adults who use them for misconduct. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, I shall not respond to the hon member for Koedoespoort’s remarks on the Kannemeyer Commission now as I believe the hon the Minister will reply to them. I can only say we should see the appointment of the Commission as a protection for the SA Police. We on this side are in agreement and have never found fault with it. The SA Police will protect the Force in the enormous task it has to carry out in this country.
In this the Official Opposition plays a huge part in attempting to cast suspicion on members of the SA Police as if they were criminals. I also wish to agree with previous speakers who said that on Wednesday the voters of Newton Park would settle with that party.
The hon member for Krugersdorp said this afternoon that the hon leader of the Official Opposition should relieve the hon member for Houghton of the position of chief spokesman for their group involved with the portfolio of Law and Order. I must say I disagree with the hon member for Krugersdorp because the more she and her cohorts walked around Port Elizabeth and pretended that the SA Police had injured the angels of Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, the more she harmed her party and chased people from it. The people and also the voters of Newton Park are tired of having the cudgels taken up on behalf of uncontrolled groups without law and order and pretending that they have the right to protection.
I wish to boast a little to the hon the Minister but I am doing it in a lighter vein. A few years ago I asked for alterations to the police station at Fraserburg. The hon the Minister and his department did not see their way clear at the time to complying with my request. Now I read in the April addition of the Police magazine that Fraserburg, a small police station, was placed first in the South Western Cape region and among the ten best in the country. If my information is correct, it was the third-neatest police station in the country the year before. I wish to congratulate that small but dedicated staff under Sergeant Fanie Botha at Fraserburg. In my opinion that is really an achievement.
On paging through the annual report of the Police, one realizes we have a police force of well-trained and civilized people who are motivated for their task.
The minimum requirement for entry is a matriculation certificate but then we see there are also 73 graduates and/or those holding diplomas. We see further that various courses are offered for in-service training and there are also various bursary loans available to the Police Force. We know we are not dealing with a substratum of society but with highly sophisticated people. They are very well trained and are respected in any society. They serve inter alia on school committees and church councils and are respected people. It is a great pity and I regret it when our police are condemned.
Will a person ever be able to have an ideal police force? Certainly not while we wish to measure the entire Police Force against the ideal. The perfect human institution does not exist in this world. Where one has to deal with such an enormous police force, there can be incorrect action here and there and wrong decisions can be made. Sometimes inexperienced young boys and girls of 18, 19 or 20 have to take decisions in the wink of an eye which can mean life or death or the success or failure of his task. A policeman may never flinch from his task because then he is letting his Force and his colleagues down. It is easy to judge when one is not involved personally in a struggle and when no decision is demanded of one in a wink—then it is easy to hurl brickbats. Have we ever tried to project ourselves into the policeman’s situation when, as I have already said, he has to decide very rapidly and it will mean success or failure?
The Police Force has an enormous task in this country. What is expected of it? Section 5 of the Police Act, 1958, deals with the activities of the SA Police and comprises inter alia:
I have already said if one looks at the wide field the Police has to cover and think that there are more than 2 million investigations a year, one can surely expect an error of judgment to be committed here and there.
Every individual in this country—this includes every colour and population group, regardless of person—expects the peacableness and order of society to be maintained. In such circumstances the individual’s principles of privacy, safety and freedom can be guaranteed. Police action is measured against these principles every day but—as I have already said—they are also fallible people and that is why I, who am also a fallible person, understand and will never judge them. The NP, in the words of the hon the Minister of Law and Order, will never leave the Police Force in the lurch but will always step into the breach on its behalf. We know maintenance of security is an enormous task in our heterogenous society where each has a divergent point of view and attitude which is right in his eyes. If we bear that in mind, we can never leave our police in the lurch.
I wish to appeal to everyone in this country this afternoon that each of us should do our duty to make it possible for the Police to carry out what we expect of it. Has the time not come for all of us to do our duty to a greater degree in supporting, assisting and lightening the task of the SA Police in this country? If we do this, with cognizance of the faults and shortcomings of all, we shall have some understanding of the difficult task the SA Police carries out with great distinction, honour and dignity for all of us so that everyone, including those who denigrate the Police every day and wish to thwart its task, can pursue our activities. I, and I believe everyone on this side, express our thanks for and appreciation of the enormous task the SA Police carries out daily with so much daring and determination.
Mr Chairman, seeing that the hon the Minister obviously does not intend to reply this afternoon, I want to say one or two things …
I am under no obligation to reply.
As far as I am concerned, he need not talk at all. However, it is usual for the Minister to participate. [Interjections.] I am not taking issue with the hon the Minister. He is cross with me, but let us reserve our fighting for the right issues.
I want to deal with one or two other matters which fall under the hon the Minister’s portfolio. The one is the hardy annual of detention without trial. I am not going to go over all the objections this side of the House has in principle to having a law on the Statute Book of South Africa which would be much more pertinent to a Third World country. I am willing to believe that the whole NP Government agrees with the hon the Minister of Foreign Affairs that we must be judged as a Third World country in future and not according to Western values which show some respect for the rule of law. This side of the House certainly does respect the rule of law, and we want South Africa to be judged as a country which is in tune with Western democracies rather than with countries behind the Iron Curtain or Third World countries elsewhere.
As usual, the hon the Minister has been busy detaining people without trial under section 29 of the Internal Security Act. Last year, he informed me in reply to a question that 339 people had been detained. This year, as far as I can keep count, at least 20 people have been detained. As at the beginning of March, which again is according to an official reply to a question I put, 85 people were in detention under section 29. The detainees, of course, include the usual mix we have in this category of people being held in police cells and prisons throughout the country, namely students, trade unionists, professional people, and now also a goodly number of UDF leaders and officials. It is clear from what the hon the Minister said this afternoon that the UDF is now becoming the major target of the Government’s hostility. I wonder if the hon the Minister will give us some idea of what the fate of these people is, because about 50 to 60 of the 85 who were in detention at the end of March have been in detention since September/October 1984; in other words, since the Vaal Triangle erupted in unrest. Have these people not yet been interrogated? After all, section 29 is there for interrogation purposes and not for charging people. If they have been interrogated, why are they now not set free? Perhaps the hon the Minister will give us some information about this.
I hear that detainees who are held at John Vorster Square—I think this is the only place of detention where this takes place—are psychologically affected to their detriment by the 24-hour closed-circuit television eye which is fixed on them. Now I know the hon the Minister will tell me this is to keep them under supervision so that they do not harm themselves or commit suicide. Of course, I think everybody realizes that that does South Africa a great deal of damage. But the practice is, in fact, damaging the detainees. It is extremely disconcerting to know that one is under supervision for 24 hours of the day.
I want to ask the hon the Minister just why his Security Police detained a leading American academic, Prof Gwendolyn Carter and her assistant, Mr Porter, at Jan Smuts Airport on 18 January this year? The two were held—the Minister does not like the word detained—for two hours and their belongings were searched. Books and papers were taken away, presumably to be photocopied, and later returned. Mr Porter was actually stripped and body-searched. Apparently the instruction was that Prof Carter should also be body-searched, but fortunately the policewoman in charge of her had enough good sense not to do this, particularly as Prof Carter is an elderly lady who is in a wheelchair.
What is the object of this exercise? Will the hon the Minister return those articles which were confiscated, I think illegally? They were not banned articles. There are two articles by Mrs Ramgolin, photographs of a committee which was apparently formed to deal with people under detention in Durban and a book which has the freedom charter on the back of it. Prof Carter is anxious to have her belongings returned to her, and I think it would be a very gracious gesture on the part of the hon the Minister which would do us a lot of good with the American authorities if the hon the Minister also apologized to Prof Carter.
Now, come on, be a man for once! I mean, be a gracious person for once and apologize to Prof Carter for the inconvenience which was caused to her and Mr Porter by this absurd little exercise.
Mr Chairman, perhaps the hon the Minister would also like to tell the committee whether any disciplinary action was taken against the 15 policemen reported to have been seen laughing and joking as a young Coloured man lay unconscious—and subsequently died, I might add—after being assaulted. The death, on inquest, was found not to be the result of the blow administered by policeman. It was caused because a passer-by who stopped to help the policeman dropped the man in such a way that he hit his head on the kerb. Nevertheless, it seems as though the original assault was perpetrated by the policeman because the young man, who was a breakdancer, was out with a young White woman. Presumably after the Immorality Act has been scrapped—and not a moment too soon—we may not have this sort of ugly incident happening. However, since the original assault was the result of the action of the policeman, does the hon the Minister believe that the R30 fine which was imposed on him was imposed in the cause of justice? I should like to ask the hon the Minister if he does not think laughing, although no crime, was certainly offensive in the circumstances in which this happened? Does he not think that at least a rebuke should be given to the policemen who did not go to the aid of the young man lying unconscious but stood laughing and joking as a result of this incident?
Mr Chairman, today I should like to refer in my speech to the attitude of the various political parties towards the South African Police which emerged from this and other discussions held in the House today. Before I do that, however, I wish to refer to remarks made by the hon member for Brakpan and also the hon member for Koedoespoort. The hon member for Brakpan expressed a doubt whether it was right that this judicial commission, the Kan-nemeyer Commission, should sit in public because this could give rise, as he said, to a psychosis of suspicion towards the Police. The hon member for Koedoespoort went a little further. He expressed misgivings whether it was in any way necessary or advisable that there should be such a commission at all. I wish to make just two comments in this regard. Firstly I think that where a country is prepared to open its doors and in the first place to have a commission and to have it in public in the second place, it shows that we are not afraid to open those doors and have nothing to hide. It also shows that if a mistake has been made somewhere we are prepared to do something about it.
What about the Erasmus Commission?
I am speaking specifically about this commission. The second point I wish to raise which is very important is that if somebody dies, as did the people who were shot, in terms of our laws a judicial postmortem examination necessarily has to take place. Whether this commission had therefore sat or not, evidence would in any case have had to be led on the events and why the people died. One could therefore in any case not have been able to prevent the leading of evidence and investigation of the case even if the commission had not been appointed. I want to state it very clearly that it was not done to show the Police in a bad light. In fact, I think it was actually done to show the Police in a good light.
I wish to return to my theme, namely the attitude of the various parties towards the SA Police. Personally, if I look back over my life, I can say the very first incident I can remember was hearing a very strange sound, almost a rattling sound, as I was sitting playing. When I looked up I saw a policeman riding up on a camel. That is actually the very first thing I can recall in my life—it was a policeman on a camel. The hon member referred to the mounted Police and their horses. I later became a district surgeon and co-operated with the Police for years, but, from the time I saw the policeman on the camel, members of the Police have held a most particular place in my mind. Since that time I have appreciated them greately and I think that is the attitude of this side of the House as well.
The feeling and attitude of the PFP was illustrated very clearly to me on Wednesday, 26th March when the hon member for Albany was making a speech. Hon members will recall this was just after the dramatic incidents, to call them that, at Uitenhage. The hon member had a prepared speech with him—a beautifully typed speech which was neatly set out. While holding that prepared speech in his hand, he picked up a loose scrap of paper from the side—I found this symbolic. Hon members will remember that this side of the House as well as the CP then, just as happened today, attacked the PFP and asked: “Do you ever say anything good about the Police? Is there nothing good about the Police?” Then the hon member for Albany picked up the little scrap of paper and said the following—this was written on the loose scrap of paper (Hansard, 26 March 1985, col 2791):
He said he was going to refer to the incident at Uitenhage—
There was a further sentence written on a loose scrap of paper which to me was symbolic of his attitude. [Interjections.] He then put down that loose scrap of paper and produced his “charge sheet”, a hefty document, neatly typed and worked out. Then he tore into the Police. I do not have the time to read his entire speech now but hon members can look it up in col 2791 of Hansard. That is the PFP attitude. The hon member for Houghton opened her speech today in precisely that manner. She said something good about the Police in two or three sentences—she did at least want this on record—and then she tore in with her charge sheet and in three speeches continued attacking the Police. I can tell hon members that there are a few questions from members of the PFP on the “misdeeds” of the Police in the Question Paper every Tuesday. They want to know whether the Minister has investigated this, that or the other. On Tuesday, 16 April, the following appeared on the front page of the Question Paper:
- 2. Mr E K Moorcroft asked the Minister of Law and Order:
- (1) Whether any members of the South African Police employed in riot control in the Eastern Cape since August 1984 were injured in the course of their duties; …
Then I thought the PFP had in truth started to change. They were now actually putting a question on police being injured but then I saw there was a sting in the question because the second part was:
- (2) Whether these persons were wearing or using protective equipment …
[Interjections.] You see, he asks whether members of the Police were hurt but not out of interest in their injuries but only because the Police were supposedly guilty. [Interjections.] That precisely typifies the attitude of that party.
As regards CP members, they say here—and I believe them; I have no doubt about this—that they stand by the Police. They speak well of the Police and they say they stand by the Force. I do not doubt this is so; I accept this. Naturally they also want to play a few political games. The hon member for Kuruman said (Hansard, 26 March 1985, col 2808):
He is therefore also extracting his bit of politics from the case. As I was saying, the CP says it stands by the Police and I believe this. The hon member for Kuruman said inter alia (col 2812):
The CP said that and I believe it but now I ask: When that policeman has already risked his life for his country, when his house has already been burnt down, when that hon Minister has already stood by that policeman, will the CP then bid him farewell? Will it then say: “Goodbye, Black policeman!”? Or is the CP prepared to grant that policeman a decent dispensation in the country for which he has risked his life? [Interjections.] We negotiate with Black people. We say: Let us work out a decent dispensation for them. We say that we are in the process of working out a dispensation but we do not say to that policeman, “You have already risked your life; goodbye!”
I shall tell you what our attitude is towards the Police. We will help draw that police-van. If that policevan is stuck in a drift we will help to push or draw it out. If a nut on that van should sometimes work loose, however—and nuts do sometimes work loose—it is the duty of this Government and ours to assist the Police in tightening that nut again. [Interjections.] We are balanced. We stand by the Police. We stand by the Black police, not only when they are fighting for the country but afterwards as well. We stand by the Police and, when mistakes occur, we will assist in putting those mistakes right.
Mr Chairman, I take pleasure in following the hon member Dr Vilonel. At this stage I do not wish specifically to associate myself with what he said but I shall return a little later in my speech to the point on which he closed.
In these times the Police obviously has a most unenviable task. The reason why this task is so unenviable is that South Africa at present finds itself in a situation in which reform is being established but in which a revolutionary onslaught against the country is also taking place on the other hand. It is no coincidence that these two phenomena are occurring simultaneously. It is a fact that any community in the process of reform exposes itself to the type of power which wishes to overthrow a political system, an entire social system.
The consequence of reform is necessarily that the stability, the strength of a community suffers temporarily in the process of reform. Certain existing relationships between members of the community are removed in the process of reform whereas others are brought about. An example of this is our experience in the institution where we are at present—Parliament. A year ago our relationship toward the hon members in the other two Houses was totally different from that of the present. Today they are our colleagues. Previous relationships between us have been removed and new ones have taken their place.
From the nature of the case it is also true that the cohesive power of an old relationship is not immediately present in a new one. In the transition period from our old relationships there is a slight loosening within society. While new relationships are being established, the opportunity arises for the revolutionary to attempt substituting radically deviating relationships for those new ones. It therefore follows automatically and logically that on the one hand it is the obvious time for a revolutionary to strike while the process of reform is taking place. On the other hand society is most vulnerable to revolutionary onslaughts at that time.
This does not mean, however, that reform should be discontinued. In many communities where a revolution erupted, it unfortunately happened that they ceased their reforming processes as soon as they realized these were furnishing an opportunity to revolutionary elements. By that time expectations had already been created and the loosening in society had already occurred. At that stage reform can no longer be stemmed because society can no longer maintain itself in its old form. Consequently it is very dangerous to discontinue the process of reform at that point.
The loosening in society which arises in the process of reform makes the task of the Police infinitely more difficult. One conclusion one may have reached from the debate up to this stage is that the Police in truth has an unenviable task. The loosening currently present in our country and the onslaught of revolutionary elements threaten to rend society apart. Against this it is a fact that, if the Police acts too sternly and not according to properly refined methods, it would, in fact, be playing into the hands of revolutionaries. After all, it is an old strategy of revolutionary movements to provoke police action. Innocent people are then treated roughly or shot and in consequence a new source of propaganda has been created. If the Police were to shoot 20 innocent people by accident, the revolutionary movement would be at least a 100 recruits better off in consequence of relatives and friends of the victims joining them. This makes the task of the Police enormously difficult.
On the one hand I am very pleased that our Police are in the hands today where it actually is because I know the people in control of the Police understand this situation. This also means, however, that in our discussion of the Police and police action we should be exceptionally careful. If we attack the Police too much and denigrate them for every mistake they make—the hon member for Beaufort West sketched the situation very well in which the Police and especially a young policeman can make a mistake—and, if we trumpet forth every mistake the Police make, we will denigrate the credibility of the Police and play into the hands of revolutionaries because in so doing we would be disparaging our instrument for maintaining law and order.
On the other hand, however, we cannot conceal matters. We cannot, as the hon member for Koedoespoort suggested, refuse to investigate when a problem arises because then it is also in the interests of the Police that an investigation should take place so that we can see not only how the mistake arose and the Police can learn by it but that we may also place the good intentions of the Police above all doubt. We must strengthen this instrument.
This brings me to a point on which I wish to cross swords with the CP. I should very much like the attention of the hon member for Koedoespoort because my point links up directly with the point he made in connection with the CP’s support of the Police. I appreciate that greatly and I should like us to elevate Police action totally above party politics. That is why I do not wish to fight the hon member or the CP today but wish to bring a point to their attention. Ordinary CP supporters are too fond of saying that the Police should fire. [Interjections.] I request hon members to listen to me properly because I am making a serious appeal to them. There are too many CP supporters spreading stories that the Government is obstructing the Police in carrying out its task properly. [Interjections.] Because such stories are being spread—whether the hon member for Koedoespoort admits it or not—I think it is very important that CP leaders make a definite statement in this House to give a clear lead to their people out there about how they should go about criticism of Police action because it can play into the hands of our enemies if we treat the matter wrongly. I therefore call upon CP members to send out a very clear message. [Time expired.]
Mr Chairman, at the end of this afternoon’s debate I merely wish to raise a small matter which I should like to bring to the attention of the hon the Minister. I do not want to bring it to the hon the Minister’s attention only, however, but to that of all hon members of this Parliament. I think, and it has been my experience, that we as community leaders are doing far too little to combat crime everywhere in South Africa. That is why I wish to say this afternoon that it is not only the task of the SA Police but of every South African and certainly of every body in authority in this country. My experience in my electoral division where we have introduced a crime prevention committee indicates that it can be done. This enables the Police to carry out those duties to which one would like to see it pay attention.
I believe that city and provincial councils and hon members of Parliament should pay attention to this and that every community should establish such a committee.
What should such a committee do? I wish to close the debate this afternoon by telling hon members how effectively it can function. In older cities in our country, for example, there are many areas which still have sanitary lanes. On the East Rand, where I come from, we found that such sanitary lanes were at times places where crimes were hatched. Unfortunately we had the experience in recent years that a murder could take place from such a lane. A pensioner was murdered and his house subsequently set alight. The sanitary lane was in frequent use 40 years ago and, by removing it, one could remove a place for hatching crimes and I believe facilitate the task of the Police.
That is only one aspect to which such a committee can pay attention. In Boksburg this committee consists of city councillors, members of Parliament and members of the provincial council and also includes officials from the Police, the Department of Co-operation and Development, the Traffic Department and the Department of Justice. They meet about once every three months and consult about places where there are such crime spots in the community—places giving rise to petty crime. It has been our experience that in many cases such areas can be sealed off; if not, the city council could give instructions to have the case investigated to establish whether parts of a sanitary lane could not be given to the existing inhabitants living along it. One could add them to their plots and so automatically close the lane. If that were done, one would immediately counter crime in one’s own community.
There are a number of old residential areas throughout our country where the prevention of crime may be applied effectively in this way. I wish to make an urgent plea to the hon the Minister this afternoon and bring it to his attention that this is one of the spheres of crime prevention to which we do not pay enough attention in South Africa. If we investigate this and apply crime prevention effectively, we have found according to our experience in Boksburg that the problem can be solved effectively. This is not a great contribution that one makes in respect of total prevention of crime but, if it were impressed upon every community to do its share in its own bailiwick, one would lighten the duties of the Police and increase its effectiveness and efficiency. Then every citizen’s attention would be fixed on what he had to do as regards the prevention of crime.
Business interrupted in accordance with Standing Order No 19.
Progress reported and leave granted to sit again.
The House adjourned at