Scorpions Media Briefing
30 Jul 2008
Mr Y Carrim (ANC) Chairperson: Justice and Constitutional Development Portfolio Committee
Ms M Sotyu (ANC) Chairperson: Safety and Security Portfolio Committee
Mr B Mangwanishe (ANC)
Mr Sicelo Shiceka (ANC)
After the briefing, the media asked questions:
Q: No amount of signatures will sway the ANC from dissolving the Scorpions. Is this the situation?
Mr Yunus Carrim answered that they would give weight to these numbers but that in and of itself they were not really relevant. He suggested that the country had to come to Parliament with concrete proposals on how to improve the structure in its fight against crime.
Q: There was a concern that the public’s voice did not count. Please comment.
Mr Carrim replied that it was the majority party’s constituency that were victims of crime and that ultimately the test would be in the elections. If the masses out there were unhappy with the dissolution of the Scorpions, they would inform Parliament in how they vote. He noted that all South Africans, from whichever party they came, had a common national interest in reducing the levels of organised crime and corruption.
Q: What figures did you receive from the public displaying their disagreement?
Mr Carrim replied that they received one submission with over 24 000 hand written signatures in the form of a petition. The second one with 55 000 names came from the same email address, thereby implying that it all came from a certain sector of the community.
Q: Did you receive any probe regarding this?
Ms M Sotyu answered that they were all from the same organisation with the same email address.
Q: Was public participation only being done here to protect Parliament?
Mr Carrim answered that in terms of public participation; parliamentary rules stated that a Section 75 bill had a very limited role for the National Council of Provinces and the provincial legislatures. He noted that this was the first instance where a Section 75 bill would be going to the legislatures of the provinces to have provincial public hearings.
He made three further statements:
- Firstly, he noted that the masses out there, the ordinary people wanted to see a drastic reduction in crime and corruption, and they were not concerned with the forms and structures.
- Secondly, they had invited the National Assembly to partake in this process, they more likely to play an independent role and thus ensuring more responsibility was taken.
- Thirdly, he made reference to the fact that Parliament was acutely aware of the principles of the Constitution; and therefore it had a vested interest in reaching out to the public.
Q: As regards public participation, where was the opportunity for members of the public to have a real say in the decision for the adoption of these laws? Hypothetically we might deal with crime by applying Shariah law. Given the fact that we have a democratic culture and not an ayatollah, where did it say that the public cannot engage with law?
Mr Carrim answered that Shariah law only affects a minority, and that South Africa had a Constitution which governed the country. This was an unfair glib comment made by the media but thanked them for raising the issue of the relationship that exists between majority and minority parties.
Q: If the real problem was that the Scorpions did not have this ‘intelligence capability’, why did they not legislate that Scorpions be provided with this capability?
Mr Sicelo Shiceka (ANC) answered that the Scorpions, as it currently stood, were not assisting the country because they did not have the capability of intelligence. They were unable to deal with crime effectively. He also noted that operational jealousy existed between the various law enforcement agencies and that this issue needed to be addressed urgently. He asked for the public to come forward with ideas for a better solution and that this was the reason for public hearings.
Q: What was there before the public can consider ito the overall criminal justice structure in order to make it easier for public to engage with you regarding their participation?
Mr Carrim advised the media that a 5 page document would be made available to them that set out basic principles that underpin the new proposed model. The public would be briefed on it.
Mr B Mangwanishe advised the media that this Bill would not be receiving any special treatment and that it would be treated like any other Bill.
He stated further that all companies and organisations have a research and development department wherein any product that was offered to the public must continuously be improved upon. He advised the media not to fall in love with the Scorpions, but instead to fall in love with the fight against crime. He suggested that if we can have something ten times better than Scorpions, why would we still need to keep the Scorpions?
He stressed the importance of going to all communities in the provinces to hear what the people say as they believe in public participation and in participatory democracy. He noted that they were not forced by court to confer with public, and were doing so because they believe in the public’s right to participate. He stated that it was necessary to acknowledge the number of submissions.
He stressed that it was imperative for them to deal with the professional jealousy that exists between law enforcement agencies in order to multiply the successes of the agencies.
Q: In addition to the petitions, there have been four scientifically acceptable polls that found that 65-90% of its sample want the Scorpions retained. What weight was given to these polls?
Ms M Sotyu felt that all the media’s questions were similar. She answered that the 90% figure, as quoted by the media, was representative of the people. She claimed that if you were to go to the rural areas and question the people who the Scorpions are, they would reply that it was a fruit.
Mr Carrim stated that if one looked at our Constitution, take for example gay rights, abortions and death penalty. If a poll was taken, a significant part of the population would say that they were against gay rights, abortions, and that they might want the death penalty back. But Parliament would not be able to change these laws as it related directly to the Constitution. He questioned which party would be so foolish and foolhardy to take a decision six months before an election that it knows the majority the people were opposed to. He maintained that Parliament was against populism and said that the test would be to see if the ANC had lost any votes because of this.
He noted that it was the ANC who decided to go to the public; it was the ANC who decided that even though it was a Section 75 Bill, they would not look at a single clause in that Bill until they heard from the provinces. He asked the media to look at these 55 000 people, look at who these people were, and to what extent they represented the majority?
He maintained that Parliament wanted to hear from people who were opposed to the Bill. Parliament must be a popular organ of the people. People need to come to Parliament to whinge and whine and beat their breast and they would listen. He acknowledged that Parliament played a therapeutic role for society, and likened it to the Imbizo. He stressed that the public had a right to come and say what they thought.
He questioned that if this was such a big issue why were the four days allocated for public hearings not filled up. If it was such a big deal, why was it that so few people come to voice their opinion? He stressed that the media must not prejudge the provincial public hearings. If there was overwhelming evidence to them that the majority was against this Bill, Parliament would then call for special conferences to review this.
He stressed that the mass media and certain political parties had made this a bigger issue than it was for the rank and file of this country. The media must ask itself how it was out of kilter with opinions of the people of the country and that instead of getting critical analytical appraisal about each of the politicians, they need to analyse what it all meant.
He stated that it was extremely likely that the Scorpions would go unless something earth shattering happened. He asked the media to extricate their own prejudices and work together with them. He asked for ideas on how to fight crime and he stressed that the media needed to use this as an opportunity to help ensure that the new unit that would be created was strengthened in its fight against crime. The media had shown him personally far more prejudice in the way they posed questions, than what he had ever done to them.
Q: Why had this been taken out of review? Was it not democratic to ask the electorate in April, saying that the ruling party did not want the Scorpions anymore and what did the public think about that?
Mr Sicelo Shiceka (ANC) replied that people needed to come forward with solutions that were greater that we think the Scorpions would achieve, and that it would be considered. This would only make the country better that was why we were consolidating. If people can present scientific evidence, we would be happy to look at that.
Ms M Sotyu asked the media to come to the public hearings and not to waste its time with the petitions. She advised that to go the route of petitions would result in failure.
Media requested a programme for public hearings, but it was not provided.
DEPARTMENT: JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA
BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE PROPOSED NEW INTEGRATED CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
President Mbeki, in his State of the Nation Address on 8 February 2008, stated that-
"Informed by the imperative to intensify the offensive against organised crime, as well as the recommendations of the Khampepe Judicial Commission on the functioning and location of the Directorate of Special Operations and continuing reflections on this matter, including the reform of the Criminal Justice System, we shall by the end of March this year, interact with Parliament on legislation and other decisive measures required further to enhance our capacity to fight organised crime.
What will continue to inform us as we take this step will be the absolute commitment of government to fight organised crime and improve the management, efficiency and coordination of our law-enforcement agencies."
It is common cause that we did not manage to engage with Parliament by the end of March on the aforesaid matters. This is mainly as a result of the amount of careful consideration and consultation that was required in the preliminary processes and is therefore understandable. We are following a holistic approach in regard to this vital issue of addressing crime and the Criminal Justice System, and we will not follow shortcuts in an attempt to adhere to timeframes that would bear no significant rewards, if any.
Cabinet approved the proposed turn-around strategy for the Criminal Justice System (CJS) on 7 November 2007. This strategy emanated from the President's initiative to set up the Government/Big Business Working Group on crime. One of the main weaknesses indentified was the lack of coordination between the different players in the system, namely the South African Police Service (SAPS), the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the relevant Government Departments. It this regard it is also important to note that the Khampepe Commission found that there are virtually no coordinating systems in place between the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) and the other law enforcement structures.
It is also useful to reflect more comprehensively on the President's announcement, on 25 June 1999, that led to the establishment of the DSO. The focus in this regard was very much on improving the SAPS in all respects, including its professional competence and effectiveness. With the wisdom of hindsight, it is clear that the establishment of the DSO, outside the framework of the SAPS, did not contribute towards the goals of creating a more efficient, professional and competent police force, raising" ...the public status of our policemen and police women so that they are seen, correctly, as the frontline guarantors of the fundamental human rights to liberty, life, safety and security' as envisaged at the time.
With the benefit of hindsight, the objectives referred to in the aforesaid address are more likely to be achieved by integrating the investigative capacity of the DSO into the SAPS by means of an elite and specialised Unit, aided by the continued guidance and assistance of dedicated members of the NPA, thus perpetuating the successful "troika" principle of prosecution assisted investigations informed by comprehensive crime - intelligence.
Since January 2008, representatives of the Department (under the guidance of the Director General) have been working closely with the SAPS in order to develop a model for the transfer of the investigator component of the DSO to a new, specialised unit of the SAPS. This process lead to the approval by Cabinet, on 30 April 2008, of two draft pieces of legislation providing, on the one hand, for the establishment of a new "Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation" in the SAPS, and, on the other hand, aligning the National Prosecuting Authority Act, 1998, with the relocation of the DSO to the said Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation. Both Bills have since been introduced into Parliament, namely the South African Police Service Amendment Bill, 2008, and the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill, 2008.
The general aims of the review of the CJS are to:
- Improve the legitimacy of and public confidence in the entire CJS.
- Eliminate key weaknesses and blockages in the system through short and medium term interventions.
- Ensure sustained efficiency and effectiveness of the CJS through improved coordination and professional management of the system as a whole.
- Establish or configure structures within and throughout the justice, crime prevention and security sector of government
The holistic new strategy envisaged for the CJS, will be underpinned and driven by a package of seven fundamental and far-reaching transformative principles to the present CJS, which must all be adopted and implemented in an integrated and holistic manner to achieve a new CJS which dynamically coordinates and manages the CJS at each level:
Principle One: Adopt a single Vision and Mission, leading to the adoption of a single set of objectives, priorities and performance measurement targets, for the CJS, by the Cabinet Justice and Crime Prevention Strategy (JCPS) cluster.
Principle Two: Establish, legislatively, a new coordinating and management structure for the CJS, at every level, including at national (Cabinet JCPS cluster) and provincial levels, as well as local district court levels, to comprise relevant stakeholders at each level, especially DOJ, including the Judiciary and Magistracy, SAPS, NPA, Department of Correctional Services and the Legal Aid Board.
Principle Three: Making substantial changes to the present court procedures in relation to criminal matters in order to make them better understood by the public.
Principle Four: Implement all the proposed key priorities identified for the component parts of the CJS, which are part of or impact upon the new court process, especially as it relates to the reprioritisation or reallocation of resources for the creation of new or substantial increase of existing capacity in the relevant core departments/agencies. e.g. human resource capacity in the SAPS forensic since laboratory.
Principle Five: Establish an integrated and seamless National CJS database/system containing all information relevant to the CJS, and review and harmonize the template for gathering information relating to the CJS.
Principle Six: Modernise, in an integrated and holistic manner, all aspects of the systems and equipment of the CJS, including the fast tracking of the implementation of present projects and modernisation initiatives.
Principle Seven: Introduce major changes to the Community Policing Forums regime, including expanding its role to deal with all matters in the CJS, for example, policing, parole boards and so on, and provide for a sustainable financial and administrative infrastructure to give it "teeth". This is work in progress, and Cabinet welcomes comments from the public on the above proposals to develop a new integrated criminal justice system.
1 Presidential address 25 June 1999: This will entail a variety of measures focused on ensuring the effective implementation of the national crime prevention strategy. Let me mention a few of these, relating mainly to policing.
We will work to improve the professional competence and effectiveness of the Police Service by introducing new human resource development programmes.
I am also pleased to announce that new recruits with the requisite levels of education will be brought into the Service to help transform the Police Service into the pride of the nation.
Appropriate measures will be taken to give these recruits the necessary training so that they can assume their positions as soon as possible at all levels, including the senior management echelon.
At the same time, all relevant regulations will be reviewed to ensure the proper promotion and deployment of serving members, taking into account their competence, honesty and dedication and the need to end the racial and gender imbalances within the Police Service.
Steps will be taken to review the conditions of service of the Police Service with a view to their improvement.
This must also help us to ensure that we raise the public status of our policemen and police women so that they are seen, correctly, as the frontline guarantors of the fundamental human rights to liberty, life, safety and security.
To enable our law enforcement agencies to translate this into reality, I am privileged to announce that a special and adequately staffed and equipped investigation unit will be established urgently to deal with all national priority crimes, including police corruption.
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