23 November 2005
Cabinet was today briefed on the implementation of the decision on special remission for offenders undertaken in the past few months. Based on the need to improve humane management of offenders and zero tolerance towards aggressive, sexual and drug-related offences, the process was handled in a manner that ensured:
- consultation and active involvement of offenders' families, civil society structures, including the religious community and, where possible, the victims; and
- utilisation of information technology accurately to capture data on the offenders affected.
A total of 65 837 offenders benefited from the remission, of which 31 865 were in correctional centres (the rest being probationers and parolees). Thus far, 185 of these offenders (i.e. 0,28%) have been admitted to prisons for re-offending. Though this number is quite low, Cabinet agreed that lessons needed to be drawn from this experience to ensure even better outcomes if and when such decisions are taken in future.
Overall, Cabinet expressed satisfaction at the manner in which this complex process was handled, and government hopes that all of society has gained some valuable experience from this exercise. Government will encourage continuing discussion within society on the issue of appropriate sentencing relating to "minor offences".
The meeting examined the question of short- and medium-term youth development programmes in the context of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (Asgi-SA). These include such opportunities as provided by the human resource development initiatives, expanded public works programme, development of SMMEs, Business Process Outsourcing and minerals beneficiation, co-operatives and 2010 Soccer World Cup projects.
It was agreed that, in addition to the detailed Asgi-SA projects, government and the private sector should be encouraged to make use of the Jobs and Opportunities Database for the recruitment of unemployed graduates. Further, and taking into account the growth initiative, the National Youth Policy Framework will be reviewed and so will the impact of the current array of youth development institutions.
Cabinet in principle approved a Job Creation Strategy in the Energy Crops and Biofuels Value Chain. It was agreed that a Biofuels Task Team should be set up, bringing together public and private institutions, including Science Councils. The strategy, which will ensure reduced dependence on imported fuels, also has great potential to create jobs and bring on board small-scale farmers. It was agreed that specific time-frames for implementation should be finalised in due course, in line with the approach contained in Asgi-SA.
Cabinet was briefed on preparations for World Aids Day on 1 December: the main event will be held in Durban . While the challenge of combating this pandemic remains, government is convinced that we should approach this task with confidence and hope, given:
- the high levels of awareness and changes in lifestyle with condom usage among those with multiple partners having increased from 48,6% in 2002 to 79,1% in 2005;
- almost universal access to condoms which has increased to 97%;
- the 199 public health facilities providing HIV and AIDS-related services including antiretroviral drugs, with 85 000 people having enrolled for ARV treatment in the public sector alone;
- over 61 000 community and home-based care workers and trainees, and the intensified Khomanani awareness programme;
- increase in the number of people counselled for testing in public health care facilities from 691 000 in 2002/03 to 1 319 009 in 2004/05; and
- increase in the number of AIDS patients accessing nutritional supplements from public facilities.
The meeting noted preparations for International Day of Disabled Persons, 3 December, an occasion for all South Africans to reflect on the changes, but also challenges, in respecting and promoting the rights of disabled persons in our society. It also noted the launch, today, of the Community Development Workers (CDW) programme. This coincides with the completion by 1 300 of the CDW of their learnership training and the recruitment of 900 more during November.
The following appointments were approved:
- Readjustment of the term of office for the DG: Science and Technology, taking into account the decision to appoint him in the near future as CEO of the SA Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA); and
- DDG for Strategy and Business Development at the Department of Social Development.
The meeting approved a Radioactive Waste Management Policy and Strategy, which has been amended after public consultation. It includes the creation of a National Committee on Radioactive Waste Management to advise the Minister on this issue, working with the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR). The Strategy is informed by international principles on safe management of radioactive waste, national legislation, definition of responsibilities of government, radioactive waste generators and regulators, and processes of evaluating waste management plans.
Cabinet welcomed the increase in the number of voters who have registered to take part in the municipal elections scheduled for 1 March 2006. It should be noted that, until there is a formal proclamation of the election date, citizens can still register at municipal electoral offices.
The meeting noted and supported a proposal to set up a Cape Town Jazz Orchestra.
Cabinet formally expressed its best wishes for the speedy recovery of Minister of Defence, Mosioua Lekota. It also passed a motion of condolence to Minister Lindiwe Hendricks' family on the passing away of her mother, and Minister Charles Nqakula's family on the loss of his brother.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)