Freedom Front Plus wants to restore safety and security and rebuild the defence force

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Pieter Groenewald’s Freedom Front Plus (FF+) elections manifesto, under the sub-heading “rebuild the defence force”, starts by noting the effectiveness of a defence force is determined by its equipment and people.

“Unfortunately, South Africa falls short in regard to both of these. South Africa’s National Defence Force (SANDF) has deteriorated significantly as a result of constant financial shortfalls and neglect in the form of poor maintenance. In addition, an even bigger problem is the lack of expertise and discipline in the SANDF. At the moment, the only thing that counts in South Africa’s favour is the fact that there is no obvious and immediate foreign threat.

“The FF Plus will combine the difficult task of re-establishing competence in the SANDF with enforcing strict discipline. The aim is to create a professional defence force which possesses the will and the ability to effectively defend our country. Equipment and weaponry will be procured within fiscal limitations,” the manifesto reads.

On what is a shared tasking – border protection – between the SANDF, Border Management Authority (BMA) and SA Police Service (SAPS), the FF+ manifesto is clear South African border integrity must be restored.

“’Soft’ borders result in an influx of people when economic pressure increases elsewhere in Africa. It also means that domestic goods, such as rhino horns, and foreign goods, such as firearms and drugs, can move across our borders. It also makes it easier for ruthless traders to avoid tariffs and levies that are implemented to protect the local economy. The FF Plus demands effective border control.

“Immigration is a natural process and every country tries to manage it in such a way that it is beneficial. For that to happen, immigrants must possess knowledge and skills that are scarce in the recipient country. However, due to poor border control, South Africa is the recipient of large numbers of immigrants whose potential to contribute to the country has not been assessed. These illegal immigrants also put immense pressure on water resources, healthcare, job opportunities and other social services, to the detriment of South African citizens.”

Restoring safety and security

According to the FF+, crime remains a serious threat to all South Africans, with the murder rate currently the second highest in the world – it is even higher than in some war zones. “For that reason, the South African Police Service (SAPS) should be headed by professionally trained officers. Under ANC rule, top positions in the service were often filled by people from outside the police force, through political appointments, to the detriment of South Africa and all its people. It is discouraging to have to accept that young police officers will never reach the top rung, regardless of their competence.

“However, the FF Plus honours all police officers who are loyal and fearless in carrying out their duties, despite the difficult conditions and poor prospects. The party strongly condemns the behaviour of certain police officers (often deployed cadres) who consider themselves to be rulers who are above the law and who abuse their position for personal gain as well as the brutality that often accompanies these transgressions.

“The party insists that the police service should be allowed to serve and protect without any political interference, but still within proper disciplinary norms.”

According to the FF+ manifesto, it is crucial to improve the efficiency of crime intelligence to prevent crime. Ineffective policing results in citizens having to pay extra for a basic service that ought to be provided by the authorities. More and more private security companies are still springing up.

“Violent crime, exacerbated by the trade in illegal firearms, occurs on a daily basis and claims thousands of lives each year. Better policing of illegal firearms is needed. The FF Plus remains steadfast in its belief that competent and properly trained citizens have the right to own firearms and that they should be allowed use these weapons for self-defence or the protection of their property, should the situation warrant such action.”

With regard to farm attacks and murders, the FF+ believes this is a crisis “and the death rate clearly indicates that it is more dangerous to be a farmer in South Africa than a police officer. The agricultural community is left vulnerable as the government’s rural safety plan is failing due to a shortage of human and other resources. Rural safety should aim to prevent farm attacks and other rural crimes, such as livestock theft.”

The massacre of innocent children, caught in the crossfire of gangs, has reached shocking levels and the police can no longer merely promise to take action while gang violence rages on, the FF+ manifesto reads. “Drug trafficking is a great source of income for gangs and, therefore, decisive action must be taken to eradicate it. Well-coordinated cooperation between the police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is vital for ensuring that arrests for gang-related offences are followed by the successful prosecution of the offenders.

“Due to the poor handling of criminal cases, the errors made in transferring dossiers between the police and the NPA, the incompleteness of investigations, die integrity of evidence and testimonies that are not handled properly or with the necessary care, prosecution is often unsuccessful.

“Prosecution-driven crime investigating units (such as the Scorpions) should be created to properly prosecute organised crime and especially child and human trafficking, both locally and internationally.

“The FF Plus believes that the causes of poor policing should be resolved. The solution lies in the institutionalisation of effective policing. It does not require more and more resources, but rather the improved distribution and utilisation of resources which will result in a better outcome.”

If elected to govern, the FF+ pledges to restore the integrity and functionality of the police service by getting rid of corrupt members; not making politically-motivated appointments; and by offering promotions based on expertise and experience.

The FF+ says it will make private expenditure on safety and security tax deductible; establish an effective crime intelligence unit focused on the prevention of crime without infringing on citizens’ rights; establish specialised units to address violent crime and the illegal firearms trade; protect competent citizens’ right to own a firearm; provide additional resources for rural safety; combat gang-related violence; better intercept drug smugglers; and upskill investigative units.