24 February 2013
Justice, Crime Prevention, Safety and Security Cluster (JCPS) post-State of the Nation Address media briefing by Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe
Members of the media
The adoption of the National Development Plan (NDP) by government as the vision for the country encourages us to intensify our efforts in pursuit of public safety. As the JCPS Cluster, we are aware that Safety and Security is a critical component of this journey to a South Africa in which all will have water, electricity, sanitation, jobs, housing, public transport, adequate nutrition, education, social protection, quality healthcare, recreation and a clean environment.
The proposals made in the NDP require that government develops practical and implementable strategies to ensure the realisation of socio economic rights. The Cluster is mindful that for South Africa to secure socio-economic rights, our criminal justice system will have to operate efficiently and sustain confidence amongst investors and entrepreneurs.
Infrastructure development is key to economic growth and government’s commitment to reduce levels of inequality, poverty and unemployment. Lately, we have observed incidents of violent and disruptive conducts during demonstration and protests, which interfere with the rights of other citizens and have caused damage to public facilities and in some instance, private property. The Constitution guarantees everyone’s right to peaceful and unarmed demonstration. While we respect this Constitutional right, we will not hesitate to act against individuals whose conduct undermines the rights of others. We will have to ensure that the country’s infrastructure, which is critical for economic growth, is not targeted by vandals during these protests and demonstrations.
As directed by the President, we are discussing with the judiciary and the other stakeholders to ensure that stricter caseflow management processes are put in place to ensure that these cases receive priority. From the side of the police, a mandatory Basic Crowd Management training is already being offered to all new intakes in the police. These efforts will be strengthened by a dedicated detective team and Legal Officers to advise and assist the Public Order Policing Units, as well as enhanced capacity within Crime Intelligence Units.
Regarding the backlog interventions I wish to express appreciation for the work these additional courts are doing. The country-wide situation regarding both the outstanding and the backlog cases (per court level) in the lower courts has improved significantly in quarter 3 with the total backlog case numbers for all courts now below 30 000 cases (namely, 29 604). At the end of March 2012, 34 926 cases were backlog cases representing 17.4% of all cases on the outstanding roll of 200 532 cases. At the end of December 2012, this was reduced to 29 604 backlog cases, representing 16.2% of the outstanding roll of 194 725 cases. This reduction means that the Regional and District backlog courts have removed 17 425 cases from the court rolls since 1 April 2012 until the end of December 2012.
We have also met the target for an increased number of finalised criminal cases per annum for the quarter ending December 2012. The 2012/13 quarter 3 target was an increase per quarter to 76 657 cases finalised. In this regard we surpassed the target and managed to finalise 78 584 criminal cases at end of Q3 with a total year to date achievement of 248 022 cases finalised.
We have also managed to increase the number of cases finalised through diversion or Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (ADRM). For the past financial year till December 2012 we have finalised 33 526 cases through ADRM with a total year to date achievement of 104 068 cases finalized. This has surpassed the target set for the quarter (32 810).
Violence against women and children
The JCPS cluster is also concerned about the reports of sexual and domestic violence, which continues to undermine the rights of vulnerable people, in particular women and children. More concerning is that these kinds of crimes happen in our homes and are committed by people who are known to the victims. This challenge therefore requires that all social agents work together with the law enforcement agencies to root out these tendencies. On its own the criminal justice system will not be able to eliminate this scourge in our society. We urge community members to come forward and report these crimes so that perpetrators may be brought to book.
With regards to gender-based violence, the re-establishment of the Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit in 2010. Nationally there are 176 established Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units attached to all police clusters in SAPS. In support of the investigation of such crimes, over 2000 Forensic Social Workers were appointed to deal with crimes against children in order to provide expert evidence in court. Since the re-establishment there were a combined 36 225 years imprisonments and 695 life imprisonments.
The Cluster has implemented various measures to ensure that these cases are dealt with effectively and finalised in time while ensuring that victims receive the necessary support. The re-establishment of sexual offences courts will supplement the work that is being done by the cluster to ensure that these cases are handled successfully. The Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units have proven effective in ensuring efficiency in combating and investigating crimes against women and children. Nationally there are 176 established Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units. In support of the investigation of such crimes, Forensic Social Workers were appointed to deal with crimes against children in order to provide expert evidence in court.
We welcome the adoption of the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill by the National Assembly as this legislation will further strengthen coordination in the fight against gender based violence. Women and children are mostly targeted for trafficking and subjected to forced labour, exploitation and sexual violence.
Strategies implemented to reduce crime
Our ability to safeguard complex and huge events was once again proven as the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) was hosted safely, cementing our international standing as one of the safest destinations.
The levels of crime continue to drop and contrary to the current discourse, more people are beginning to feel safe. There is an increase of 8% in the public appreciation of how government is doing in reducing crime levels when compared to five years ago (32% in November 2007 to 40% in November 2012). These findings are encouraging and in line with the 2011/12 (SAPS) National crime statistics report. Victims of Crime Survey 2012 (VOCS) shows that 38% believed that the level of violent crime had decreased in their area of residence compared to 33% who said that crime had increased, 29% believed that crime had stayed the same during the period 2009 to 2011.
The rehabilitation programme contributes towards reduced levels of crime by limiting the chances of reoffending. Rehabilitation equips inmates with skills required to enhance their re-integration into society and prepares them to sustain themselves without reverting back to crime. From the new financial year (1 April 2013), it will be compulsory for every inmate, who does not have a qualification equivalent to Grade 9, to complete Adult Education and Training (AET) level 1 to 4.
Appointment of NDPP and Head of SIU
To strengthen the cluster’s resolve to deal decisively with crime and corruption, the President has prioritized the filling of all vacant posts at the upper echelons of the criminal justice system and appointments, including that of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and the Head of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) will be made soon. It is important to recognize that the length it has taken to make an appointment of the NDPP must be viewed in the context of the prior judicial processes.
The fight against corruption
The fight against crime requires that we deal effectively with corrupt officials whose actions undermine the integrity of the criminal justice system and the work of the JCPS cluster as a whole.
Similarly since 2010, 237 persons have been arrested, 32 have convicted whilst only two have been acquitted and the other 203 accused persons are still before court.
The cluster is committed to fighting corruption at all levels and areas of our society. Since the establishment of the ACTT in 2010, good progress has been made in recovering the proceeds of corruption. Criminal assets of 59 persons to the value of R816 million have already been frozen. Nearly R78 million has already been forfeited and returned to the state. The ACTT, working with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, have recovered 3 farms to the value of R59 million which were lost through corruption. These can now be used for proper service delivery to the poor in the land reform program. Another 5 farms to the value of R74 million have been frozen and should be recovered soon.
Good progress is also being made with regard to our intervention in Limpopo in terms of Section 100 of the Constitution. The ACTT is currently investigating 39 criminal cases involving fraud and corruption. This includes 29 persons and 4 companies were brought before the court as part of the on-going criminal investigations.
87 persons have been identified as having potentially benefitted more than R5 million from corrupt activities. Freezing orders have already been obtained against 32 persons who personally benefitted R5 million. The use of freezing orders is an important weapon of fighting corruption to prevent those involved in corruption from benefitting from ill-gotten gains while their cases are being finalised.
Several technological projects seeking to modernize the functioning of criminal justice system and enhance coordination are at an advanced stage. The Electronic Case Management System (ECMS) was introduced to ensure the integration of the Criminal Justice System (CJS). The integration with SAPS systems was established in early February 2013 to provide instant messaging and case details to the process clerks, eliminating manual data capturing. The current ECMS solution is being enhanced to a fully integrated solution that will enable the Prosecutors to manage the electronic information relating to criminal cases which will include electronic charge sheets and the ability to enroll cases electronically. In the process this will automatically create an electronic court roll at the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The ECMS will further make it possible to receive real time case update information from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and South African Police, keeping the prosecutor informed of important case outcome information such as postponements dates and bail status. The Integrated ECMS solution is planned to be rolled out to 20 more sites by the end of 2013 and to additional 100 sites by the end of 2014.
The Department of Correctional Services is currently implementing a pilot project for electronic monitoring of certain categories of inmates placed on parole, which started on 14 February 2012. It is our view that the pilot has been a resounding success, and that it is time to extend electronic monitoring to other categories of offenders, including those still serving custodial sentences in our centres.
As a means to increase the capacity in this environment, there were 40 specialised DPCI investigators trained in the current financial year to ensure an increase in the detection of cyber-crimes. At the end of the third quarter, at least 60% of identified threats have been successfully addressed.
We are also stepping up our measures to address cybersecurity and will soon make announcement on the progress regarding the implementation of the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework. Let me just add that we have had several successful investigations leading to trials regarding cybercrime matters. Last year till December 2012, 113 cases of cybercrime were finalized with an 83.1% conviction rate.
Government is committed to protecting and ensuring the identity and status of South African and foreign nationals alike. As such, the Department of Home Affairs is seized with a modernisation programme which will, amongst others, see an integration of all its systems. In the year head, the smart ID card will also be rolled out following a successful pilot in 2012.
Significant steps have been taken to ensure rural safety in the various provinces of our country. The appointment of Rural Safety Coordinators at provincial, cluster and all rural police stations contributed in enhancing coordination, community involvement and cooperation amongst all stakeholders.
Securing our borders
The SANDF’s deployment at our country’s borders continues to contribute significantly in reducing the levels of crime and safeguarding of the sovereignty of our country. Successes during the past year include a total of 19 887 undocumented persons being apprehended, contraband to the value of R18,8 million, 44 weapons, 7 726 kg of dagga being confiscated, stolen vehicles recovered, criminals arrested and 10 301 livestock recovered.
The JCPS Cluster continues to build a criminal justice system that is responsive to the needs of the people and is able to handle the security needs of our country. The task of building a safe and prosperous South Africa requires a social pact amongst all of us to play our roles with commitment and unflinching loyalty to the values enshrined in our Constitution. Let’s all go out there and work to ensure that the people of South Africa are and feel safe.
Chief Director:Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster Communication
Cell: 082 574 5495
Issued by: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)