Justice, Crime Prevention and Security post-SoNA Cluster media briefing

 

19 February 2015

STATEMENT BY MINISTER, NOSIVIWE MAPISA-NQAKULA ON THE JUSTICE, CRIME PREVENTION AND SECURITY  CLUSTER POST SoNA MEDIA BRIEFING

Thank you for joining us this morning for the post-State of the Nation Address (SoNA) Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster Media Briefing. The JCPS Cluster is responsible for the implementation of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF 2014 – 2019) commitments articulated in the government’s priorities contained in Outcome 3, with the Vision that: “All People in South Africa are and feel Safe”.

During his SoNA, President Jacob Zuma mentioned that working together with other government institutions and social partners, government was making progress in the fight against crime and corruption. This demonstrates the concerted effort by government to break the back of crime in the country.

The JCPS Cluster notes with deep concern the increasingly violent public protests in communities around our country. We reiterate the point that while people are free to exercise their constitutional right to protest, they should do so in a peaceful and orderly manner without damaging property and inflicting injury to law-abiding citizens. The hijacking of community concerns by criminal elements undermines genuine grievances that communities may present to government. The disruption of schooling to express dissatisfaction during protest action is totally unacceptable because it robs innocent children of their future aspirations and also violates their basic right to access education. We urge communities to put the interests of their children first and protect them against acts of hooliganism.

Police capacity and training

Law-enforcement agencies must deal firmly with any person who violates the law during protests. The South African Police Service’s (SAPS) Public Order Police unit is being capacitated to effectively and professionally deal with violent protest action. Training in crowd management has also been extended to the metropolitan police in the provinces.

Safer schools

Police will continue to work with the Department of Basic Education to ensure that schools are safer places for learning and teaching. Schools are being linked to police stations and crime-prevention programmes are being conducted. In an effort to deal with issues that contribute to criminality and make schools susceptible to crime, initiatives such as search and seizure operations are being carried out to rid our schools of undesirable items such as drugs, substances and weapons.  In addition, school safety programmes were implemented at 15 796 schools which are linked to police stations.

Safer communities

Community participation continued to be was promoted in the past financial year. In this regard 99% of all police stations have implemented operational community police forums; community outreach programmes leading to numerous crime awareness campaigns were also conducted for the year till end December.  In addition, 125 community safety forums are functioning in 8 provinces (with the exception of the Free State Province, where the establishment of such forums is receiving attention).

Rural Safety Strategy

In line with the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Rural Safety Strategy, the SAPS has embarked on an accelerated programme to provide new infrastructure and improve exisiting ones. New police stations are being built and existing ones maintained in our rural areas. Six new stations are being built in the North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo (including Muyexe Village in Giyani, which is a Presidential nodal point).

To ensure that integrated crime prevention and combating strategies/actions are implemented, the Rural Safety Strategy has been fully implemented at 117 police stations countrywide. The strategy was developed in 2009/10 in collaboration with the South African National Deefence Force (SANDF), agricultural unions and the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs. Special attention is also being given to improve forensics, crime investigations, and prevent crimes against women and children, including efforts to meet competency standards for all trainees in these areas.

Transfer of the High Courts to the Office of the Chief Justice

Government continues to transform and integrate the Criminal Justice System (CJS) to serve all people, irrespective of their location and social class. In line with the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act and the Superior Courts Act, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJCD) transferred the functions of the High Courts to the Office of the Chief Justice on 1 October 2014. The transfer is intended to strengthen the constitutionally entrenched independence of the judiciary. In 2015/16, the Office of the Chief Justice is expected to acquire its own budget vote which will enable it to operate fully as a national government department separate from the DoJCD.

Improving access to the CJS

The JCPS Cluster is rolling out programmes to ensure that the poorest of the poor have access to qualitative and speedy justice. We are satisfied that we are making good progress in increasing access to the CJS. Our government is committed to delivering equal access to justice for all South Africans, rich or poor, black or white, urban or rural. The transformation of the CJS will strengthen the confidence of our people in the fair and impartial administration of justice for all.

Dealing with case backlogs

Government has introduced various measures to improve efficiency and minimise delays in the CJS. JCPS Cluster departments have introduced various interventions to deal with case backlogs. The DoJCD has, in particular, dedicated capacity to deal with case backlogs. Currently, 30 regional and 23 district backlog courts are serving as case backlog courts.  They have assisting in reducing the criminal case backlogs to 27 978 as at the end of December 2014 (comprising of 12 768 district court backlog cases (that is, cases longer on the court roll for 6 months) out of 137 345 outstanding district court cases and 15 210 regional court backlog cases (that is, cases longer than 9 months on the court rolls) out of 31 256 outstanding regional court cases. The respective Directors of Public Prosecutions have established teams in their respective regions to focus on areas where assistance is necessary to improve court performance. Training is further provided to enhance the quality of prosecutions. The target for finalizing cases through Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (ADRM) was met and 135 172 cases were finalised in this regard for the year till end December, with 43 587 cases so finalised for the quarter (against the Quarter 3 target of 35 809).

Both government and civil society in South Africa are preoccupied with the task of addressing the legacy of injustice and creating a society based on fundamental human rights and freedoms, redressing entrenched inequalities and restoring dignity.

Sexual violence

We are concerned about reports of sexual violence in the country and continue to identify measures to deal with these heinous crimes. As part of our commitment to support victims of sexual violence, 33 regional courts have been upgraded into sexual-offences courtrooms.

Collaborative efforts with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex groups, civil-society organisations and government departments in the JCPS Cluster through a National Task Team, are beginning to yield positive results. Twenty two (22) of sexual-violence cases have been finalised and offenders sentenced to periods ranging from six years to a maximum of 30 years in prison. Eleven (11) cases were withdrawn for various reasons including, amongst others, reluctant witnesses and tracing of perpetrators and victims and two cases with an acquittal. Twenty three (23) remain pending but are receiving urgent attention from the SAPS, with dockets being recalled and re-examined.

Rationalisation of magisterial districts

In keeping with our ongoing efforts to broaden access to justice, the rationalisation of magisterial districts in Gauteng and North West to align with the municipal boundaries, came into effect on 1 December 2014. This programme ensures that more of our people are able to access justice closer to where they live. The roll-out of the rationalisation project to other provinces will continue during the 2015/16 financial year.

Roll-out of Small Claims Courts

As part improving access to civil justice, we are continuing to roll out Small Claims Courts countrywide. A total of 330 Small Claims Courts have been established across South Africa and 37 of them were created in the past financial year until the end of January 2015 alone. We are therefore fast approaching our goal of having a functioning Small Claims Court in each of South Africa's magisterial districts. I am pleased to announce that we only need to establish another 60 Small Claims Courts to be 100% compliant country-wide in this regard. 

High Courts for Limpopo and Mpumalanga

We are pleased to announce that the hardship being endured by communities of Limpopo and Mpumalanga who have to travel to Pretoria at great expense to access High Court services will soon be over. The Limpopo seat of the High Court will start operating from the beginning of April 2015 while that of Mpumalanga will follow a year later. We are also working hard to ensure that all people in our country are not deterred from accessing justice by financial constraints.

Mediation services

On Monday, 16 February 2015, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services launched the court-annexed mediation services. Through such mediation, civil disputes, in particular maintenance and claims against the State can be resolved quicker and more amicably and the huge costs of litigation will be averted. In the next financial year, the DoJCD will roll out these services to other provinces.

Fighting corruption

We are continuing to make inroads in the fight against corruption. In pursuance of establishing a resilient system to coordinate all anti-corruption responsibilities and structures under the new government administration, the President established an Anti-Corruption Inter-Ministerial Committee (ACIMC) in June 2014. The ACIMC is mandated to coordinate and oversee the work of state organs aimed at combating corruption in the public and private sectors. The role and functions of the Anti-Corruption Task Team have been expanded to operationalise government’s anti-corruption agenda and make corruption a national priority.

Review and changes in legislation are also continuously taking place. A recent promulgation towards strengthening the anti-corruption efforts of government is the Public Administration Management Act, 2014 (Act No. 11 of 2014), that was signed by the President and assented to on 19 December 2014. Of specific note in this Act are the regulation of conducting business with the State, and the establishment of the Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit.

Since February 2014, the President has issued 16 new proclamations (including one amendment) authorising the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate allegations of corruption, maladministration and malpractice. During 2014, the SIU had identified R417 million in cash/assets as potentially recoverable for the State from various investigations. In the same period, the SIU had recovered R13,7 million in cash.  The SIU has also referred 156 matters to the National Prosecuting Authority for criminal prosecution and has brought 56 matters to the attention of respective State institutions for possible disciplinary action. The role of the SIU is intended to send a clear message that corruption and maladministration are not profitable.

A total of 192 criminal cases, involving 1 017 persons is currently under investigation and has led to 58 convictions the past few years for corruption cases where the illicit value was more than R5 million (with for convictions in the current financial year).  Freezing orders to the value of R2,2 billion were obtained. To reduce corruption amongst government officials to enhance its effectiveness and its ability to serve as a deterrent, 62 persons were convicted until the end of quarter three for 2014/15 and freezing orders to the value of R430 million were obtained. Proceeds of crime and government losses to the value of R10.7million (as at the end of December 2014) were recovered by the Asset Forfeiture Unit from government officials.

Border control

Government has made substantial progress in establishing a Border Management Agency (BMA), which is a single entity that will manage the entire border environment and all ports of entry. To this end, personnel from the South African Revenue Service’s Collaborative Border Management unit have been transferred to the BMA Project Management Office under the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria. The Border Management Project Office was set up to promote government’s vision to achieve a new, integrated border management, through the BMA. The BMA Bill will be submitted to Cabinet by mid-2015.

Safeguarding our borders

The SANDF has continued its presence along the South Arican borders, deploying 13 sub-units to execute border safeguarding along Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and North West. Only Gauteng and the Western Cape are not covered.

Operational successes since the beginning of 2015 includes the following: 3 200 undocumented foreigners were apprehended, 35 stolen vehicles were recovered, dagga worth the street value of R9 million was confiscated, contraband goods to the value of R9,7 million were confiscated and 55 suspected criminals were arrested. The SANDF continues to support other government departments such as the SAPS to execute their work in various areas.

Retaining Health Care Practitioners within SANDF

In the beginning of last year, a Ministerial Medical Task Team was established to look into a range of employment conditions for Heath Care Practitioners within the Defence Force. The Task team made several recommendations some of which have  been implemented and others are in the process of being implemented. To date, the outstanding medical overtime performed has been paid and up to date. The Occupational Special Dispensation (OSD) has been corrected to the benefit of the all those who had been affected. The improvement of employment conditions has stopped the outflow of health practitioners from the SANDF. The Ministerial Medical Task Team also made recommendations that resulted in the conclusion of a Memorandum (MOU) of Understanding between the Department of Public Works and the Department of Defence. This MOU will see the Defence Works Formation take over the refurbishment of Defence Force facilities such as the 1Mil Hospital, in a phased approach.

Defence Review 2014

It is important to inform the public that Cabinet approved the defence policy as contained in the Defence Review 2014 that gives direction to the kind of defence force we want to create for the Republic. The Defence Review assisted government to assess the state of its defence organisation, mandate, capabilities and design with a view to identify areas requiring review and suggest future interventions. Implementation of the Defence Review 2014 will begin in earnest after the Parliamentary processes are completed. It is also very important to note that approximately 2 thousand young recruits joined the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the January 2015 intake as part of the rejuvenation of the force. 1.547 went to the SA Army, 174 joined the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS), 80 the Air Force and the remaining 214 joined the SA Navy.

Correctional Services

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) has continued to build on successes of the first two decades of freedom in reassuring South Africans that when an offender is sentenced to custody, he/she will serve the full term without escaping. This is crucial in our efforts to ensure the people are and feel safe to go about their productive lives without fear of crime. The DCS has achieved a 99,97% success rate in keeping inmates behind bars, as only 60 of the country’s 157 000 inmates could escape, with 81,7% rearrested. We attribute this success in rearrests to unprecedented levels of collaboration within the CJS, and with families and communities of inmates.

For example, during Operation Vala – our festive season security campaign – two parents in the Eastern Cape brought back their fugitive sons. The parents’ stance contributed in the 100% rearrests of 18 escapees, 95% of whom were rearrested within 48 hours of escaping. We urge more families and communities to follow this example, as the CJS can only work best when we work together.

Management of parole

Compliance with parole conditions is a key indicator of our success rate, as we also build towards effective measuring of reoffending in South Africa. During the first three quarters of the 2014/15 financial year, Correctional Services achieved a 97% compliance levels by the 50 000 parolees completing their sentence under community-based correctional supervision, a 3% improvement from the 2013/14 financial year baseline.

Monitoring of parolees and probationers

We will continue to intensify the implementation of various methods used to monitor parolees and probationers such as house detention, community service and electronic monitoring. The identification of high-risk parolees for inclusion in the Electronic Monitoring (EM) system has contributed to the improved compliance levels. By the end of December 2014, some 473 high-risk offenders and awaiting-trial persons had been electronically tagged. The EM system is also used to assist vulnerable victims raise alarm when tagged high-risk parolees break the distance barriers set to protect victims.

Reintegration of offenders

We strongly believe that victims of crime must be informed and empowered to continue playing their role in the rehabilitation and social reintegration of offenders. In November 2014 we launched a R10 million new audio-visual system which connects 53 offices of the Correctional Supervision and Parole Boards. The system, funded through the Crime Assets Recovery Account, has been installed to facilitate more involvement of victims, families and communities during the parole process. The innovation is the first in Africa and follows the best in the world such as Canada, New Zealand and Wales.

Education and skills development

More offenders are subjected to correctional programmes, as well as to education and skills development programmes which help change their outlook of life. Since 2009, more than 108 000 inmates benefited from formal education programmes. The number of offenders who wrote their Grade 12 examinations doubled and those who gained university admission also increased significantly. The Kha Ri Gude campaign is being rolled out across correctional centres to fight the scourge of illiteracy and ignorance. In 2014 more than 4 000 offenders participated in skills-development programmes, including critical technical, agriculture and engineering skills across various fields. Over 3 700 offenders participated in Further Education and Training programmes and over 800 were pursuing their university qualifications.

Thousands of offenders were involved in the maintenance and refurbishment of more than 300 schools across the country, as part of contributing to building a suitable learning and teaching environment. Each of the country’s 243 correctional centres adopted at least one school .

Cooperation in the fight against terrorism

South Africa’s counter-terrorism efforts are guided by the values of human dignity, human rights and the rule of law, as enshrined in our country’s Constitution.  South African law-enforcement and security agencies will continue to cooperate with their regional and international counterparts to identify any potential terror risk posing a threat to the national security interests of South Africa. To this end, dedicated and coordinated cooperation, coupled with the sharing of best practices and lessons learnt, remain crucial and will provide for the opportunity to effectively identify, investigate and counter any potential terror threats.

The South African government’s position is that counter-terrorism measures must be effective and encompass a holistic approach. They must address international concerns, and regional and specific risks and challenges which necessitate specific or different countermeasures. It is for this reason that a uniquely integrated South African Counter Terrorism Strategy had been developed that introduced the mechanisms for identifying, investigating, countering and mitigating risks pertaining to terrorism.

Cyber crime

In the 2014/15 financial year, government prioritised implementing measures to proactively deal with cyber threats targeted at government and its institutions, national critical information infrastructures, South African businesses and citizens.

Implementation of the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework is in progress and various policy documents were developed. In this regard, the National Cybersecurity Policy, a National Critical Information Infrastructure Policy and a Cybercrime Policy, were developed and key stakeholders are currently being consulted. In order to enact holistic cybersecurity legislation, existing laws were reviewed and the drafting of a Cybersecurity Bill has commenced and will be submitted to Cabinet shortly. The Bill aims to comprehensively address cybercrime and cybersecurity in South Africa, and identifies various offences which can be committed in cyberspace and aspects relating to criminal liability. Further work by various government clusters and public consultations on this Bill will start in the new financial year.

Immigration policy

The Department of Home Affairs continues to intensify dialogue and conversations with various stakeholders on immigration policy to seek a balance and to advance economic growth; security; nation-building; social cohesion, and the country’s ability to attract and retain critical skills. In this regard, we will hold a colloquium in the next financial year with key stakeholders as part of processes to review our immigration regime.

Conclusion

From the above it is clear that the Cluster has made significant progress in relation to the implementation of the Outcome 3 of the Cluster’s Programme of Action, with good progress registered across all the sub-outcomes.

The fight against crime and corruption will however continue unabated in line with the directions of the NDP and the MTSF. We call on all South Africans to take hands with us – together we can make South Africa a safer place for all and ensure improved quality of life for all.

Enquiries:
Nikelwa Tengimfene ( Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster Supervisor)
Cell: 082 574 5495

Issued by the Department of Communications (DoC)

Year: 
2015
Media Statement date: 
Thursday, February 19, 2015