Is our Portfolio Committee waiting to board their 5 Star Junket Ship?

It was reported in the Sunday Times this weekend (27 March 2011), that a delegation of 49 government officials, including eight ministers and deputy ministers, flew business class to New York on a two-week ‘junket’, yet failed to attend many of the sessions of the United Nations gender summit where they were supposed to represent South Africa.

The Sunday Times reported that:
* The delegates stayed at five-star hotels including the exclusive Ritz Carlton on Central Park, where prices start at R5500 a night;
* Some of the Ministers failed to attend any of the sessions;
* A return business class ticket on SAA costs R81104 per person); and
* The South African mission at the UN complained to the Department of International Relations about the size of the delegation.

It was further reported by a government official who was part of the trip, that most members of the South African delegation who did not make it into the conference venue spent their time shopping and clubbing in New York.

So why does this concern me?
Because the Portfolio Committee for Police who have been delaying reviewing our DNA Bill for the last year are preparing to board their own junket to both Canada and the UK on their mission which they have called a “Study Tour”. It remains to be seen what in fact they will be studying, because as we all know so well, the best way to study international trends and developments on any subject these days, is from the comfort of your computer chair. And with the plethora of information available on the internet today, you can access every single country’s policy on DNA databasing, their legislation as well as any other information relevant to the development, expansion and use of their database for criminal intelligence. Trust me, I have done just that and have all the documents to prove it!

If it is forensic DNA laboratories they need to see – this too can be seen, ‘live’ in Pretoria, where international delegates in fact visit South Africa to see the automated robotic system we have in our state of the art DNA Forensic Lab.

And as for the size of the delegation embarking on the planned study tour, I believe the majority of the Portfolio Committee (15 members), a Parliamentary Researcher, two legal advisors, 3 members of the Forensic Services, and possibly a further 9 delegates who have expressed an interest on joining the junket, will be making the trip.

Excuse me if I sound bitter – but having heard a series of international experts talk on the issue of DNA Databases and its phenomenal use in crime fighting last week (all of which seminars were held here in South Africa and I noted, none of which even one member of the Portfolio bothered to attend, albeit they were free and local!), I cannot understand why the reviewing of this important piece of legislation pivots on the need for possibly 30 government officials to embark on a 10 day international trip to look at two forensic labs, which are doing precisely the same thing we are dong here in South Africa? Each day they delay getting on with the job of actually reviewing the DNA Bill, more victims are being murdered and raped because their perpetrators haven’t been at the very least identified or that evidence documented on a database which could lead investigators to apprehend the real suspect.

Why do we accept this? How can we allow 15 people and their delegation of henchmen to stand between justice and the fate of literally thousands of victims and future victims?
Those government officials are afterall accountable to us, may we remind them Рand as such, I think that they owe us an official and detailed explanation as to why they deem it necessary to embark on the study tour, who they will be taking with them and why, when they actually intend making this trip, what they expect to see and learn in those two countries and at what cost to us, the tax payers Рthe cost to the victims is clear Рit will in the meantime  be counted in lives lost and damaged.

Madame Chairman of the Portfolio Committee for Police: are you able to answer these few very simple questions?

We await to hear from you.

Vanessa

5 Responses to “Is our Portfolio Committee waiting to board their 5 Star Junket Ship?”

  1. Dave says:

    Vanessa,

    Thanks to you for your commentary, and Grant for his project devotion, both of which I fully support, it is really spot on. Don’t regret the bitterness, but please excuse my rant!

    It seems to me that the SAPS top echelons have their priorities completely a**e about face. They are more concerned about multi million/billion office rent deals involving cronies, than proactive crime policing and protection of SA citizens. Since Bheki Cele was appointed, we have seen nothing but incompetence. The Pretoria rent deal was red flagged by the public protector, but despite that, it appears we have an even bigger dodgy Durban deal as reported yesterday in the Sunday Times, both involving the well connected Roux Shabangu. Remember also Cele’s Shrien Dewani ‘monkey’ public commentary. Our previous chief Jackie Selebi, set the worst possible example when he was convicted of consorting with criminals and organised crime!!!! The minister for state security’s wife is convicted and sentenced 12 years for drug trafficking, and the Hibiscus Coast municipality says she can come back to work whilst her case is on appeal!!!!

    The politicos have amassed bodyguards aplenty (which we pay for) so they don’t need to worry about crime and DNA profiling. It is a problem of the common people, but comes in real handy for an excuse for another totally unnecessary free spending (of our tax money)junket.

  2. […] That is a total of 15 days. Wow. That is a long time to view two labs? How do you feel about this? Read how we feel! Let us know what you think, by posting a comment or writing on our Facebook […]

  3. Luke says:

    I love the picture of the correctional services minister.

    On a more serious note, this a truly sickening and part of a trend in our country. These government officials need to be called to account.

    Thanks for all the effort expended on your side to push this bill forward. The frustration of dealing with government is soul-crushing. Thank you for keeping up the fight.

  4. Faizal says:

    Hi all,

    While citizens of this country continue to be slaughtered (killed, murdered,maimed) on a daily basis….truly sad.

    It is amazing to see that the powers that be in this country do not value the life of another. Daily crimes against people are being committed and the criminal element knows his days are NOT numbered. In my town we have witnessed crime spiral out of control while the people in power go on shopping sprees and clubbing.

    This DNA Bill is so crucial as it will help put criminals behind bars.

    We have become a people that is reactive to crime.

    When will it be understood that we need the DNA Project!

    Regards

    Faizal

  5. Christa says:

    I am working for a Rape Centre, every day I see the people these ministers are suppose to protect. Small children are raped by serial rapist who rome the streets and cannot be arrested or sentenced because the DNA project does not get the urgent attention it needs!!! Why is everything in this great country of us backwards, is money and freedom to do as they wish so important to our leaders. PLEASE wake up and start looking after the innocent!!!!