Hishaam Mohamed, Western Cape Regional Head, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
I am typing this message with a heavy heart and after extensive consultation with my family and friends,
I wish to inform you that I have accepted my election to the National Assembly as a member of Parliament.
It is with great sadness that I am leaving our beloved department after 27 years of service to the most vulnerable in our communities.
This experience has been personally fulfilling.
The sadness of this moment stems from having to leave behind the camaraderie and support you all have given me over more than two decades.
I am humbled by the fact that the Almighty has granted me the longevity to experience this journey with all of you.
The department’s vision and mission will always be deeply rooted in my heart.
It is a known fact that as a result of our collective endeavour and diligence, we were all able to achieve a No Audit Qualification over the years. I am honoured to have been part of such a great team.
When I look back to when I started as prosecutor in December 1990 and later as family advocate, I have had the privilege to witness the abundant of changes, transformation and technological advancement the department has undergone. None of this would have been accomplished without each one of you as committed public servants. I am proud of having served in our department that plays a pivotal role in transforming the justice system in bringing access to justice services to the most vulnerable of our society.
I am confident that the Western Cape region is on a solid footing, both from a financial management position and public perception of our services that we render on a daily basis to court users.
I am also grateful to have been granted the opportunity to enhance my leadership skills as chair of Devcomm for more than a decade and deputy chair of the South African Board for Sheriffs.
The people of South Africa have called on me to serve them from another forum. The next journey of my life, although in a different environment will present me with the opportunity to continue to serve the poorest of the poor.
It has been my honour to serve as regional head of the Western Cape which allowed me with the opportunity to engage with and contribute to our communities through our Constitutional Development and Community Outreach programmes.
This enabled us to build our brand Access to Justice which is now rooted in our communities in every region and in the country.
In closing, I would like to thank you all for making these past years so rewarding. I value your contribution in enriching my life.
I refer to the response of deputy mayor Ian Nielson to my letter (“Draft budget comment”, Southern Mail, May 15).
Nowhere in my letter do I make the assumption that ward allocations are the only budgets for wards.
However, I do use ward allocations to illustrate the point that the City of Cape Town’s draft 2019/2020 budget does not prioritise the needs of poor people and promote social economic development in poor wards, as required by the Constitution.
The Constitution stipulates clearly that during budgeting, the municipality must “give priority to the basic needs of the community” and “promote the social economic development of the community” (section 153 (a)).
People’s “basic needs” are security, housing and food. It is a fact that these needs mainly exist in poor communities.
The Bill of Rights guarantees people the right to “security of person” and the right to “adequate housing” (sections 26(1) and 12(1)).
The City of Cape Town municipality should thus prioritise and adequately budget for security (e.g. the installation and maintenance CCTV surveillance cameras) in poor communities.
This constitutional right to security should not be treated as an ad hoc matter and funded out of ward allocations. This should be adequately funded by the service department.
Budgeting in the City of Cape Town should take into account that some wards in the metropole have benefited in the past from an unequal (apartheid) system of budgeting (Constantia, for example).
These wards are fully secured and developed, and not in dire need for footpaths, traffic calming or even park upgrades.
Why then should fully developed and affluent wards receive the same (equal) ward allocation of R850 000 as poor undeveloped wards, if poor and undeveloped wards must still fund for security and infrastructure from ward allocations?
The point is that the City of Cape Town is constitutionally bound to prioritise the basic needs of poor people, and to promote their social economic development.
This means that municipal service departments should adequately budget for security, housing and infrastructure in poor communities.
Ward allocations should be used by the people for the people’s development.