Rise Mzansi plans to dig deep to tackle crime in Gauteng 

Rise Mzansi hosted a panel discussion to inform citizens on their plan to tackle crime in Gauteng. 

Newcomer to national politics, Rise Mzansi plans to tackle crime through addressing structural issues head on, instead of narrowly focusing on policing alone.

On April 9, 2024, Rise Mzansi hosted a panel discussion at Workshop 17 in Rosebank Mall to address their proposed policies on safety and security in South Africa, with emphasis on the need to address the root causes of crime. 

This discussion was the second instalment of a weekly event hosted by Rise labelled the “Citizens Assembly’. A public forum to deliberate proposed policies and electoral issues, allowing input from both a panel of experts and citizens in attendance. The idea is to incorporate feedback to improve policies and build a genuine ‘people’s manifesto’. 

Monday’s assembly was hosted by human rights activist, Mark Heywood and Rise’s Gauteng Premier candidate, Vuyiswa Ramokgopa. Heywood said the format would “pioneer the practice of participatory democracy”, and the two hours that followed proved his point.  

The panel of experts included Head of Justice and Violence Prevention at the Institute for Security Studies Gareth Newham, founder of the NGO ‘Nirvana’ Jennifer Matibi, lawyer and human rights activist Nicole Fritz, and founding member of ‘Guns Free South Africa’, Adele Kirsten. 

The assembly began with Ramokgopa outlining Rise’s objectives regarding safety and security in Gauteng. The panel then scrutinised the plan and offered suggestions on possible ways to improve the proposed policies. 

Rise Mzansi’s plan to address safety and security in Gauteng. Infographic: Kabir Jugram

Gareth Newham spoke of the importance of addressing the root causes of crime and suggested the possibility of hiring more social workers instead of police officers so the trauma behind criminality can be addressed. 

Once all experts had offered their input, the discussion was then opened to the floor for citizen input, critique and query. It was here that possible policy blind spots were pointed out – such as their neglect of the LGBTQIA+ community as pointed out by a member of the floor.

In response, Ramokgopa said profit-driven incentives contribute to the culture of corruption in the police force and that heteronormative values allow impunity in addressing rape and crimes against the LGBTQI+ community.

“We are a traumatized nation that uses violence to solve problems. (So) we need to rebuild the South African family,” she said. 

Furthermore, the event intended to illustrate what sets Rise apart from other parties in the run-up to the national elections in May. The party has built its brand off promising a new style of leadership to the current government- with their campaign slogan being “#WeNeed NewLeaders”. 

Rise claims to offer transparent leadership that is actively involved in the communities they represent. The citizen’s assembly will resume weekly in the run-up to the election and recorded sessions are available here.

Nearly R800 000 for students in need

Wits has raised up to R780 000 to help students who have been unable to register because of funding issues.

Around 2788 students were left stranded when NSFAS  (National Students Financial Aid Scheme), rejected their applications due to insufficient funds. To address the issue, the Wits SRC launched the “One Million, One Month” campaign during the Wits Welcome Day (February 9), in hopes of raising money for the remaining students who cannot afford registration.

So far R300 000 has been raised through pledges, commitments and contributions from NGO’s, alumni, and members of the Wits community. An additional R480 000 was raised through corporations and individual donors.

“We’ve got commitments and contributions for about R300 000 but there’s no money in the bank … the money hasn’t necessarily come in”, said Sheera Kalla, SRC deputy president.

Mkosazana Dubazana, BSc Hons Geography student contributed R200 to help the campaign. “I wanted to help the students but it was also an extension of my religious practises … I tithe (give a donation at Church), and I was inspired to contribute to society in other forms not just through church”, she said.

The average Wits student contributes anything from R10 to R100 but the SRC is encouraging all students to contribute R100 to reach the goal.

The “One million, One Month” campaign will not solve the NSFAS national crisis but the contributions will help in the registration of some students.

“So yes, we might not be able to raise R174 000 000 (SRC’s estimated shortfall) but we will be able to actually change quite a few students [lives] just by allowing them to register because at the end of the day you have the rest of the year to save, but if you are not registered then you are not a Wits student”, Kalla said.

Another student, Aaisha Dadi Patel, BA Hons Media Studies, contributed R100 and said she believed in the cause. “I am proud that the SRC is not saying let’s go and have a protest. I mean we’ve done that and we’ve seen that okay you can make a noise but what can you do to effect actual change … I think the people running this have good heads on their shoulders and they know what they are doing.”

To make a pledge visit www.witsfoundation.co.za