Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster briefing

 30 October 2014

Ministers
Deputy Ministers     
Directors-General and Heads of other institutions present
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

INTRODUCTION

Chapter 12 of the National Development says “personal safety is a human right. It is a necessary condition for human development, improved quality of life and enhanced productivity. When communities do not feel safe and live in fear, the country’s economic development and the people’s wellbeing are affected, hindering their ability to achieve their potential.

Crime in South Africa affects everyone and addressing the challenge of crime and corruption is one of the Government priorities. The fight against crime and corruption is part of the JCPS-cluster’s integrated approach to accomplish the goal of a better life for all and to ensure that South Africans are able to feel safe in their homes, their places of work, at their communities and in the streets where they live.

Outcome 3 of the 2014 -2019 MTSF, All People in South Africa Are and Feel Safe”, maps out government’s programme for building of safer communities.  The MTSF lists the following five sub-outcomes that the Criminal Justice System needs to achieve: i) Reduced levels of contact crime, ii) An efficient and effective Criminal Justice System, iii) South Africa’s borders effectively defended, protected, secured and well-managed, iv) Secure cyber space, v) Domestic stability ensured.

The JCPS Cluster continues to work as a collective to deal with crime in the Republic of South Africa and ensure that these priorities above are achieved. Government will endeavor to ensure that people are and feel safe in their homes, in their streets and other public spaces. However, the work of government is often shadowed by personally experienced crime or perception on crime by South Africans as well as them feeling unsafe.

According to the national quantitative tracking research (Tracker, 2014) by the Department of Communications (DoC), only a third of South Africans perceived government doing well in reducing crime in the country. This perception rating depicts about two-thirds of the population having a view that government still has to do more in reducing crime despite the work done to date.

Government acknowledges the realities of crime and the consequent feeling of not being safe by South Africans; however, it is encouraging that with the work at hand to improve the situation, more than half (52%) of South Africans do acknowledge as well that government is performing well in keeping public spaces safe while 56% acknowledged the efforts by government to bring police closer to their communities to improve the feeling of safety in communities (DoC Tracker, 2014).

The Cluster has been re-constituted in June 2014, with the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans appointed as the Chair, and it has continued with the work started under the previous Executive Authority.  The various Clusters of Government foster an integrated approach to governance that is aimed at improving government planning, decision making and service delivery. In this regard the integrated coordination of activities of the JCPS Cluster has continued to bolster the work done to ensure we have safer communities.  The fight against crime and the prevention and combating of corruption therefore remains priority focus areas of the Cluster.

Progress in relation to the work of the Cluster will be dealt with in accordance to the various JCPS Cluster’s deliverables in terms of Outcome 3: All people in South Africa are and feel safe.

Sub-outcome 1: Reduced levels of contact crime

The Annual Crime Statistics released by the Police for the period 2008/09 to December 2013 indicate a continued general decrease in serious crime.  I am not going into detail in that regard as it has been dealt with in previous media briefings.

What we do wish to indicate is that we are in particular focusing on ensuring the protection of the rights of the most vulnerable in society, especially women, children and the elderly. As part of our commitment to support victims of sexual violence, 31 regional courts have been upgraded into sexual offences courtrooms compliant with the new Sexual Offences Courts Model since inception in August 2013 to date. Plans are in place to roll out the upgrading of more court rooms into sexual offences courts in the current financial year.

The Cluster has also continued to work with stakeholders within the LGBTI National Task Team to collectively develop an effective response to violence perpetrated on the basis of sexual orientation. A Rapid Response Team has been established to urgently attend to pending cases where hate crimes have been committed against LGBTI persons. Through the work of this task team, 21 of the total of 45 cases on the rapid response records have been finalized.

In order to ensure closer interaction with communities, the Cluster has strengthened the implementation of CPFs and CSFs and sector policing has been adopted as an operational policing approach to strengthen the philosophy of community policing.  As at the end of 2013/14, sector policing was implemented at 1 078 (95%) of the 1 137 police stations.

Sub-Outcome 2: An Efficient and Effective Criminal Justice system

The implementation of the Criminal Justice System Review (CJS Review) interventions have begun yielding a positive effect on the CJS through, among others, an overall improvement in forensic capabilities at crime scene and forensic laboratories, leading to faster turnaround times and less backlogs; vast improvements to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) as well as staffing and technology at local criminal record centres, leading to records of persons convicted in the courts becoming available to the courts speedily;  and significant reduction of court backlogs through the backlog courts.

Regarding the latter, it can be noted that 32 courts have already been converted into permanent courts. There are currently 28 regional and 25 district backlog courts operational. At the end of September 2014, there were 32 466 backlog cases country-wide in all courts representing 21.11% of the outstanding roll of 153 740 cases.  Improvement in case finalisation has also led to the resolution of 75 904 cases through an Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism (ADRM), against a target of 63 163 thereby alleviating congestion of the court rolls.

A number of CJS modernisation programmes have been or are in the process of being implemented. Progress in this regard includes the following:

  • The docket ready, docket  request and case outcome (postponement date) integrations between SAPS and DOJ&CD is now deployed to 221  DOJCD Courts across all 9 provinces linked to 848 SAPS police stations nationally.
  • The Person Identification & Verification Application (PIVA) pilot has been deployed to the Cullinan and Mamelodi Police stations.
  • The user interface specification for the CJS performance information dashboard has been completed and will provide information from across the various cluster departments to enable us to monitor the functioning of the criminal justice system value chain. To assist in this regard the various cluster departments have finalized Information Exchange Agreements (IEA) to enhance the data sharing process.

As a result of improved coordination and acceptance within the Cluster that improving the overcrowding situation in correctional services facilities is a joint responsibility of the Cluster, the number of remand detainees has been consistently reduced over the past few years and is currently at less than 41000 persons country-wide (down from  50 511 in 2010). Remand detainees of more than two years in custody are furthermore individually monitored by the Cluster and interventions are put in place to fast track such cases. Lists of those in remand for a lengthy period of time are shared with the Judiciary and at Provincial Efficiency Enhancement Committee (PEEC) meetings chaired by the respective Judge-Presidents. Since its implementation the number of remand detainees who have been in detention for more than 24 months was reduced from approximately 2,200 in July 2013 to 1 889 in March 2014.

DCS has signed a number of memoranda of understanding with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Non-profit Organisations (NPOs) and government departments to ensure community involvement in the social reintegration of offenders.

The cluster committed to the speedy resolution of cases involving children. In this regard, Legal Aid SA is currently implementing a programme to actively track children who are awaiting trial so that their matters finalised as speedily as possible. There are currently only about 110 children in custody awaiting the finalization of their cases. (This has come down on an annual basis from the 868 in 2009.)

Strengthening RSA Border Security

The South African border environment is challenging with regard to regulating large, complex flows of people, money, vehicles and good. These huge flows give rise to risks of a wide range of crimes, terrorism, and other threats. Border security operations must be integrated to be effective and informed by intelligence. The project of establishing a Border Management Agency (BMA) is underway; structures have been established that are improving the strategic and operational cooperation across departments.

Furthermore, the Department of Home Affairs is responding to the challenges of immigration, including combatting trafficking and other syndicates, by:

  • Reviewing of policy and tightening of legislation
  • Introducing more efficient administrative processes
  • Engaging with local and international stakeholders to regulate labour flows into South Africa.
  • Enforcement of legislation in the management of mixed migration flows of asylum seekers and economic immigrants.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has continued its presence along the RSA borders deploying thirteen (13) sub-units to execute Border Safeguarding along in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and North West Provinces as part of Phase 4.  Operational successes includes the following: 13 weapons recovered, 3 051 Illegal foreigners apprehended, 156 criminals arrested, 29 stolen vehicles recovered, 8 973kg dagga confiscated, 134 live-stock recovered, 14kg copper confiscated and  contraband goods to the value of R 9 424 827 confiscated. In order to make the cluster theme ‘ Working together Building Safer Communities’ a living slogan or theme the SANDF has embarked on community outreach programmes along the borderline where they stationed.

The SANDF units are actively involved in community outreach programmes in the Pongola and Mpumalanga areas of operation.  Their contributions included using own resources (own income) raised through donations to build shelters for the poor and needy. Feeding scheme projects were undertaken to support families and orphans with food hampers on a weekly basis in the Pongola area.  As part of a project 'CARE GIVER TO THE POOREST', the project focused on feeding the orphans, building 10 x houses and assisting the community in obtaining identification cards. The SA Army also assisted the youth at the schools by organising sports activities and buying school uniforms and books. Whilst deployed along the Swaziland border and surrounding areas of Pongola, the local chiefs, farmers and municipal leaders were visited as part of community interactions to establish good relations.

Sub-outcome 7: Corruption in the public and private sectors reduced

Major strides have been made towards establishing a resilient Anti-Corruption System. More than 800 persons are currently under criminal, financial and/or forensic investigation, with pre-trial proceedings initiated against 298 persons during 2013/14 financial year.  Since 2010 a total of 169 criminal cases, involving 945 persons, have been under investigation and led to 54 convictions (2 convictions in this financial year). These cases include 7 cases under investigation in terms of the OECD Foreign Bribery Convention.

In the same period a total freezing orders to the amount of R1, 811 million were obtained; assets to the amount of R1, 039 million were seized and criminal assets to the amount of R105 million were forfeited on Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) cases. During the 1st quarter of 2014/15, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) finalised freezing orders to the value of Rm511, exceeding the quarterly target with Rm344 (206%). The AFU also exceeded the performance of last year with R382.9m (299%) due to exceptional performance in April and June. The focus on high value cases, improved investigation of big cases at ACTT and interventions to speed up cases contributed to this improved performance. In April 2014, 2 very large court orders of R60m and R431m were also obtained.

Rationalisation of magisterial districts

The JCPS cluster is also prioritizing work of strengthening access to justice; the programme to rationalise magisterial districts in Gauteng and North West will come into effect on 01 December 2014. This programme aligns judicial districts to municipalities to ensure that communities are served by the courts nearest to them. This will ease the burden of paying transport costs when travelling long distances to access courts in other municipal districts. 

Progress in implementation of the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework

Significant progress has been achieved in the process of the implementation of the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework. A fully functional Cyber Response Committee (CRC) to coordinate and monitor the development of policies and strategies aimed at combating cyber threats in the republic has been established. In terms of the MTSF period 2014-2019, the CRC has submitted policies that seek to strengthen government to deal with cybercrimes and other related crime to the JCPS Cluster for consideration. Policies such as:

  • the Draft Cyber-security Policy which seeks to propose a Cyber-security policy approach for the RSA,
  • Draft National Critical Information Infrastructure Policy which seeks to outline an approach to the identification, protection and security of the national information infrastructure which are categorised as critical for the provisioning of essential services to South Africans.
  • Draft Cybercrime Policy and Strategy: This process seeks to develop a national policy and strategy approach to combating Cybercrime.
  • Draft Cyber Defence Strategy: This strategy seeks to propose an approach to the cyber defence for South Africa and is led by the Department of Defence.
  • Draft Cyber-security Bill: The draft Bill seeks to provide legislative and procedural aspects relating to combating cybercrimes and related threats.
  • Draft Cyber-security Awareness Strategy: This strategy proposes measures to deal with relevant aspects of cyber-security awareness within the Republic.

Further legislation will in due course be promoted to address relevant aspects of cybersecurity inter alia, cryptography, e-identity management and the law of evidence in so far as it relates to electronic evidence.

Honouring and support for Military Veterans

This year the country celebrates 20 years of democracy due to a significant contribution and sacrifices made by Military Veterans in bringing about that freedom.  As we together move South Africa forward it is imperative that the government and indeed the people of South Africa ensure that in pursuit of the second phase of radical socio economic transformation the lives of Military Veterans are changed for the better. In this regard, working in partnership with the three spheres of government, state owned enterprises, the private sector as well as civil society. The DMV has begun the process of rolling out a basket of social services such as housing developments; cooperatives; skills development and access to health and wellness services.

Work is underway to further strengthen partnership with the South African National Military Veterans Association as well as eight other Associations affiliated to it, including MKMVA, APLAMVA, AZANLAMVA, TBVCMVA and CMVO with particular prioritisation of Non Statutory Forces which contributed immensely in bringing about the 20 years of freedom that the country is now celebrating.

In conclusion, the fight against crime and corruption requires strong partnership between government and all sectors of society. Crime affects all of us and none of us can afford to be a bystander in the effort to build safer communities.  We should all play our part through participation in community safety forums, joining neighbourhood watches and reporting crime whenever it happens. Criminals are in the minority; we cannot allow them to hold all of us at ransom. South Africans should unite and act against any form of crime or corruption.

I thank you.

Enquiries:
Nikelwa Tengimfene
Cell: 082 574 5495

Issued by Department of Communications

Year: 
2014
Media Statement date: 
Thursday, October 30, 2014