Do we exaggerate crime on this blog?
Do South Africans have the right to complain about the high crime rate?
Our crime stats are so scary that the minister has to address parliament in a closed meeting, so that this could not possibly reach the press or the man on the street before they have an opportunity to whitewash the stats.
The Democratic Alliance has objected to the fact the parliamentary portfolio committee meeting in which Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa will be reporting back on 2008/09 crime statistics will be held behind closed doors.
To hold this meeting (on Tuesday) behind closed doors flies in the face of transparent and accountable governance, and the chairperson must revisit this decision," said DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard in a statement.
She said the public had a right to hear the minister account before parliament for the crime rate in South Africa. The Constitution requires that Parliament conduct its business in an open and transparent manner, and section 152 of the National Assembly Rules severely limits the scope in which a committee session can be held behind closed doors.
Section 152(b) of the National Assembly Rules provides for hearings to be held behind closed doors when the committee in question is considering a matter which is:
(i) of a private nature that is prejudicial;
(ii) protected under parliamentary privilege, or for any other reason privileged in terms of the law;
(iii) confidential in terms of legislation;
(iv) of such a nature that its confidential treatment is for any other reason reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society Kohler Barnard said the annual crime statistics cannot be classified as a matter falling under any of these clauses, as it is information that is being disseminated as part of the SAPS annual report, which is to be tabled and is thus being made available to the public anyway.
"Holding this session behind closed doors, and then holding a press conference immediately afterwards, gives off the impression that the minister is trying to stage-manage the release of crime statistics, instead of allowing due parliamentary process to be followed."
Instead of accounting to parliament for the crime rate, the minister wants to hold a press conference on his own turf, and away from parliamentary oversight, said Kohler Barnard.