Address by President Nelson Mandela at the Investment against Crime Seminar hosted by the China Express, Johannesburg

19 August 1998

Chairman of the China Express, Mr Chu-cheng Kan;
Ladies and gentlemen,

Any meeting to share ideas on topics of such importance to the future of South Africa as investment and the fight against crime, is more than welcome.

The pleasure is doubled when it is also a meeting with people who are amongst the leaders of a community deeply rooted in the history of our nation.

I would therefore like to thank the China Express for doing me the honour of inviting me to join you today. And I would like to pay tribute to the newspaper for marking its fourth anniversary by bringing us together on this issue.

It is perhaps impossible to fully represent on such an occasion the rich diversity of the Chinese community in South Africa, small though it may be in numbers.

It is a community which has shared the indignities heaped on all those in South Africa who were not categorised as "white", a community which, because of its small size and its own insistence on human dignity, helped expose the twisted logic of apartheid; and which made its contribution to passive resistance, to defiance; and to opposing group areas and segregated political structures.

It is a community which, in its very composition, also represents the double complexity of South Africa's historic relations with the world, and the history of China itself. Together with what the currents of past centuries have helped make a part of our country is the infusion of people and capital that recent times have brought.

Today, in a democratic South Africa we can at last draw on all these rich threads as we build a nation in which every community, however small, can flourish, while its members are full and unqualified members of the broader South African nation.

Ladies and gentlemen;

We cannot forget that this occasion has its origins in a tragedy, the shocking death of little Danny Zhong. One of the goals which has drawn us together is to do what we can to prevent such outrages from occurring again.

It is common cause that the problem of crime in South Africa is a complex one. Though it is one we share with the rest of the world, it also brings enormous challenges deriving from our past. Those include eradicating the great poverty created by apartheid. And they include the transformation of a police force and a justice system which were designed to look after minority interests and suppress resistance rather than protect the safety and security of all.

Nevertheless we can say with confidence that we have made progress over the past four years. Crime is still at a completely unacceptable level, but we are turning the tide.

There are two fundamental thrusts to our National Crime Prevention Strategy.

The first is a co-ordinated effort by all the relevant government departments to create an justice system that brings criminals to book and sends the message that crime does not pay.

Moving in this direction has meant rooting out the minority of corrupt elements in the police, the prisons and the court system who undermine the work of the great majority of their colleagues who are men and women of the greatest integrity.

It has meant re-orienting our police service, putting intelligence at the heart of police operations, and boosting the investigative capacity of our detectives. Where the situation demands it we deploy the South African National Defence Force in support of the police.

We have closed loopholes in the laws to strengthen the hands of judicial officers, and we will continue to do so. For example, at the beginning of this month our new bail law came into effect, tightening up to conditions under which bail can be granted. We have created a category of offences for which there is no parole. Minimum sentences have been prescribed for violent crimes, and legislation introduced to deal more effectively with organised crime.

But none of this will bring lasting success without the co-operation of the public. That is why a meeting like this is of such importance. As well as giving you an opportunity to express your concerns, it will also, I hope, promote your engagement in structures and activities that are critical to our fight against crime.

All of us must join hands with the police in that fight.

Community Policing Forums have now been established in virtually every locality of our country. They are essential to building the relationship between public and police that we need to keep our neighbourhoods safe, and they deserve your support.

Business Against Crime has a presence in all our major cities. It is making an increasing impact on the fight against crime, both by its support for law enforcement agencies, and by its efforts to create within the business sector a climate which facilitates law-enforcement in all its facets, whether it concerns violence, white-collar crime or taxes. The more business supports the organisation, the more effective it becomes.

The second main thrust of strategy for safety and security is to build from the ashes of apartheid a society from which we have eradicated the poverty that is at the root of much of our crime.

The private sector has a critical role to play in generating economic growth. Government's economic policies are designed to create a climate for the flourishing of the private enterprise. It combines the careful use of public resources, focusing them on the goals of reconstruction and development, with a restructuring of our economy so that it can succeed in the competitive market-place of the world.

Much of the estimated R40 billion of Foreign Direct Investment which has come into the country over the past four years is in part a response to government measures, including the restructuring of state assets; and an investment programme that ranges from spatial development initiatives to tax incentives for investment that promotes growth, employment and innovation.

If government has been able to facilitate investment, it is because political and economic conditions in South And Southern Africa offer the prospects of sustained growth. Though the turmoil in international markets is having an unwelcome impact on our own economy, we have confidence in the soundness of our policies and the potential of our county and our continent.

We also have confidence in the capacity of all sectors in South African society to work together and put long-term interests above short-term considerations.

We recognise the contribution which the Chinese community has made to South Africa's development, in every sphere. We are confident you will be part of the effort to meet the challenges of today.

Together we can turn this into the country of our dreams.

I thank you.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website