25 June 2012
Statement by Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe
Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen
Our Constitution envisions a society where all South Africans, irrespective of their race, gender and creed, live in a society free of crime, intimidation and corruption and where economic activities are not withered down by greed and illegal elements. The Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster is constantly strengthening its systems and interventions to ensure that all people in South Africa are and feel safe.
The commemoration of the youth month should remind us all of the pain and anguish that accompanied the struggle for a democratic South Africa. We believe that addressing the challenges of crime and corruption, which remains one of the Government’s top five priorities for the current Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) period, will allow our country, in particular the youth to benefit from the fruits of our democracy.
We congratulate General Mangwashi Riah Phiyega, on her appointment as the first woman to lead the South African Police Service. We are confident that she will build on the foundation laid by her predecessors in our quest to deal with all criminal elements. As the JCPS Cluster we will give her all the support for her to succeed in her responsibilities.
The continued good interaction between the role players in the Cluster and improved coordination efforts has yielded the results we are seeing. In terms of the Outputs of the Delivery Agreement, good progress continued as will be pointed out below in more detail. We continue to call all community members to assist in reporting crime to the police and come forward with evidence as and when they witness wrong doing in their communities. I now give progress as follows:
Performance per Output
Output 1: Reduce overall levels of serious crimes and in particular contact crime
Since the signing of the delivery agreement in 2010, government has put in place various plans aimed at eradicating crime. The significant reduction in serious contact crimes such as murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances is a consequence of the vigorous and strategic interventions by the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster. During Quarter 4 (Jan – March 2012), crime levels in general went down compared to the previous quarter. The overall serious crime went down by 0.5% in the 4th quarter compared to the same period last year. During the period under review, contact crimes were reduced by 1.2% from 307.8 per 100 000 of the population.
We have intensified detective and intelligence work in order to bring those involved in ATM bombings to book and ensure that they are successfully prosecuted. These heightened detective and intelligence operations will not only be limited to ATM bombings and Trio Crimes, but will continue during 2012/13 covering all serious crime categories.
During 2011/12 the courts increased the number of finalised trio crime prosecutions with 232.1% compared to the 535 cases reported as finalised during the previous year. A total of 1 777 cases comprising of 2 152 trio counts were finalised with a conviction rate of 85.8%. Prosecutors dedicated to Organised Crime finalised a total of 192 trial cases with a conviction rate of 89.1%. The 192 trial cases included 5 racketeering convictions as well as 25 counts of money-laundering.
The NPA has done ground-breaking prosecutions in respect of environmental crimes in the last year. In 66 environmental cases prosecuted, seven sentences of direct imprisonment were handed down. The NPA participated in the multi-disciplinary project to address the plundering of rhinos. During the year 24 cases were finalised with convictions in 20 cases involving 28 accused, a conviction rate of 83%.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit, working closely with the Hawks, did well in its mission to freeze and recover criminal assets. More than R540 million was frozen during the year for the second consecutive year. In addition, R131 million was recovered and paid to the victims of crime and to the Criminal Assets Recovery Account, by far the highest amount ever.
Output 2: An effective Criminal Justice System (CJS)
Transformation of the Justice System
The continued increase of court cases involving the State has highlighted the need for the transformation of State Legal Services to reposition these services to meet the growing demand. There will be an appointment of the Solicitor- General as the head of State Legal Services who will take the ultimate responsibility and accountability for the implementation of the civil litigation policy and strategy. This will facilitate improved coordination of the activities relating to litigation by and against the State through, not only the state attorneys and other legal units in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, but also other State departments in general. The introduction of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism for the civil cases will contribute towards the reduction of backlog civil cases in the legal system.
We continue to work collectively to find lasting solutions to the challenge of sexual violence which is often felt by the most vulnerable people of our country. It is for this reason that we announced the establishment of a task team to investigate the resuscitation of Sexual Offences Courts which have shown impressive conviction rates in certain parts of the country in the past. The task team will look into practical steps that will ensure that these courts benefit the entire population and not selected communities as was the practice in the piloted sites.
We are encouraged by the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal which reversed the decision of the Western Cape High Court in the State versus Prins case. The Western Cape High Court had earlier decided that the failure by the Legislature to specify penalties in respect of certain offences reflected in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 (Sexual Offences Act), did not create offences.
We wish to thank Supreme Court of Appeal for acting swiftly in enrolling this matter to avert what could have led to thousands of alleged rapists escaping scot free without being called to answer for their awful deeds. We will soon engage with the judiciary, the prosecution and the legal profession and other stakeholders to increase the capacity of the Regional Courts to hear these cases as quickly and practically possible. Processes are underway to establish the number of sexual offences cases which have been put on hold in order to identify additional capacity that may be required through the case backlog courts.
We are confident that the re-introduction of family violence, child protection and sexual offences units in the police, as well as the establishment of the inter-sectoral task team to look into the viability of prioritising such cases through specialised sexual offences courts. This will ensure that we deal with these heinous crimes effectively.
The approval of the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill 7 of 2010 by the National Assembly will strengthen the fight against sexual offences and assist in protecting vulnerable people especially Women and Children.
Efforts to improve the efficiency of the criminal justice system received a major boost in quarter 4 through the adoption of various lower court inter-sectoral case flow management practices and guidelines.
In terms of the case finalisation rate, various high level interactions with all relevant role players were initiated. The judiciary under the leadership of the Chief Justice is now formally part of the case flow management structures and initiatives, which will lead to improved performance in this regard. A highlight in the performance of the criminal justice system was the inroads made in the past quarter and year in terms of further reducing case backlogs. The target was met with a reduction of backlog cases to 34 926 backlog cases at the end of the quarter on all court rolls. (this was a reduction by how much compared to the target or previous performance)
The average length of time in Remand Detention was reduced from 150 in 2009/10 to 96 days in the last quarter of 2011/12. In addition, the numbers of parolees without parole violations have increased from 71.9% baseline of 2011 to 79.9% in 2012 last quarter. By the 4th Quarter of 2011/12, the average length of time in Remand Detention was reduced to 96 days from a baseline of 150 days. This is over and above the envisaged targeted length of 120 days projected by the end of 2014.
The number of offenders participating in rehabilitation programmes continues to increase as by end of the 4th Quarter of 2011/12, about 17 556 offenders were actively involved in correctional programmes against a prison population of 167 819. This figure represent 10.5% improvement.
Output 3: Corruption within the JCPS cluster combated to enhance its effectiveness and its ability to serve as a deterrent against crime.
The anti-corruption activities continued successfully during this period. The courts have increased the number of corruption conviction where JCPS officials were involved from 29 in 2010/11 to 107 in 2012 of which 24 were convictions attained in the 4th Quarter.
Output 4: Perceptions of crime among the population managed and improved
Public Assessment on issues related to JCPS Cluster was undertaken by GCIS and the Government Performance Barometer (GPB). In these surveys, people mentioned unemployment, crime and corruption as among the most important challenges facing the country.
Findings from the GCIS Tracker study depict an improvement on public perceptions regarding government initiatives to reduce crime. The most recent data points to an increase from 45% in Aug’11- Nov’11 to 50% between Nov’11- Mar’12. There is a marginal increase of 5% in the public’s appreciation of how government is doing in reducing crime levels when compared to a year ago.
Output 5: Levels of corruption reduced improving investor perception, trust and willingness to invest in South Africa
The 2012 Government Midterm Review report reveals that in addition to crime, a key challenge for government is corruption, which is increasingly undermining the government’s ability and resolve to deliver on its promise to offer South Africans the lives they deserve.
Output 6: Effective and integrated border management
In November 2009 the RSA government mandated the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to return to the borders, fulfilling that Constitutional mandate of the defence force to safeguard the territorial integrity of the Republic. The SANDF started borderline deployment in April 2010 of the following that cabinet decision, by deploying in the north of the country along the KZN/Mozambique Border, Mozambique/Mpumalanga and Limpopo/Zimbabwe, in a phased-in approach which will be completed in 2015 covering the land borders of the RSA. To date a total of 11 companies has been deployed along South African borders with neighbouring countries since the first deployment in 2010 April. Effective border management is part of the government crime prevention strategy, which deals with cross-border crimes and poaching.
The SANDF deployment of forces continues in a phased in approach working with other government role players, the South African Police Services (SAPS), SARS as well as departments of Home Affairs, Tourism, Public Works, Transport, Health, State Security and Agriculture. There are 11 companies deployed on the Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique and Lesotho border. The deployment has taken place along the northern borders, and in the Free State Province.
We will roll out a further 4 companies in the financial year 2013/14 to the North West (Botswana Border) and Northern Cape (Namibia Border) Provinces respectively during Phase 4. This will bring the total number of companies deployed on the RSA border to 15. As part of this deployment, operations are being conducted to combat cross-border crime, stock theft and illegal grazing as well as rhino poaching in the Kruger National Park.
Since the deployment of the SANDF, contraband to the value of R3 105 959 has been confiscated, 70 since the beginning of April 2012. It included cigarettes and liquor. Additionally, 763,11kg narcotics (dagga) were confiscated, 315 kg precious metal (copper), 23 stolen vehicles and 9 weapons were also recovered. A total of 5 210 undocumented persons were apprehended and 212 criminals arrested.
Output 7: Integrity of identity and status of citizen and residents secured
Government has made strides in its endeavours to ensure the integrity of the identity of our people as well as the status of residents within the country.
In this regard, since the launch of the National Population Registration Campaign (NPR) in 2010, children registered within 30 days have increased from 445 853 to 556 762 in 2011/12, just over 50% of all births. Early registration of child births will ensure that government is able to extend services to children, including social grants, where applicable while helping to prevent fraudulent registration of child births through such schemes known as “rent a baby”.
To encourage parents to register their babies within 30 days of delivery, a total of 264 hospitals, clinics and health care facilities have been connected to the Department of Home Affairs. A further 80 hospitals will be connected in the coming year. In the meantime, eighty-eight (88) hospitals and other health care centres are visited regularly by officials for collection of registration forms.
We have also witnessed a dramatic decrease in the late registration of persons of 15 years and above, from 354 588 in 2009/10 to 110 902 in the 2011/12 year, thus reducing the risk of fraudulent acquisition of citizenship while the protecting the NPR. New regulations with penalties aimed at curbing late registration will be introduced this year.
A total of 1 199 467 IDs were issued to first time recipients in the 2011/12 financial year. This is a significant increase compared with the 834 353 issued in 2009/10. With the number of applications for the re-issue of IDs and late registration of birth, steadily decreasing, it is evident that South Africans are beginning to value their enabling documents, their identity and their citizenship. In this regard, in the 2011/12 year, we reissued 1 075 994 IDs, which is 5% fewer when compared with the 1 125 141, issued in 2010/11.
We remain committed to dealing decisively with the scourge of duplicate IDs. The most serious category of duplicates is where more than one person shares the same ID number. In this regard we have resolved 6335 cases from January to May 2012. The breakdown is as follows: January: 865; February: 911; March: 961; April: 1771; May: 1827.
Output 8: Cyber Crime Combated
Cyber-security remains key priorities for us as they have detrimental effect on the economy and most vulnerable people of the country. Cabinet has approved the cyber-security policy framework in March 2012. In summary, this framework outlines policy positions that are intended to:
a. Address national security threats in cyberspace;
b. Combat cyber warfare, cybercrime and other cyber ills;
c. Develop, review and update existing substantive and procedural laws to ensure alignment, and
d. Build confidence and trust in the secure use of information and communication technologies.
An implementation plan to deal with the approved cyber-security policy framework is currently being operationalized. A total of 155 cybercrime matters were finalised during the past financial year. It appears that the majority of cases involve unlawful electronic fund transfers / fraud etc where the password of the complainant was obtained or cloned cards being used. The conviction rate on average stands at 89%.
This strategic report on progress with regard to Outcome 3 indicates the strengthening of delivery in terms of cross-cutting criminal justice system issues. The Cluster will continue to monitor progress in terms of the various outputs of Outcome 3 and will also continue to align implementation with the refined Delivery Agreement.
Chief Director: Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster Communication
Cell: 082 574 5495