Justice, Crime Prevention & Security Cluster Implementation of programme of action
30 Oct 2008
Presenter: Minister of Safety and Security, Hon Nathi Mthethwa
Hon Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Safety and Security, presented a report detailing progress made on the Apex Priorities that had been identified by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster. He noted the review of the criminal justice system, where a seven-point action plan was being implemented, including the streamlining of case flow and reduction of backlogs. The redesignation of branch courts was intended to increase proximity of justice services to all communities. The revival of Traditional Courts, whose leaders would have undergone specialised training, would enable the settling of less serious criminal cases and civil disputes, thereby diverting the load from the already overburdened mainstream courts.
The piloting of indigenous languages in courts was a project to ensure equal access of justice for all South Africans. Other key priorities included the transformation of the judiciary, to ensure better gender and race representation.
The report also highlighted the achievements of the South African Police Service (SAPS), noting that an annual crime reduction target of 7% to 10% had been set in 2004, and reporting on the incidents of crack downs and reductions of ATM bombings and cash-in-transit heists, and the 344 arrests made by the Organised Crime Unit. Partnerships in the fight against crime spoke to the public awareness campaigns, the role of members of the public through existing structures such as the Community Police Forums, and the success of the Crime Line Project. Operation Festive Season would involve partnering with the private security industry in the fight against crime, particularly to ensure safety of tourists in the holiday season, and protection of children from being perpetrators or victims of crime.
Safety on public transport entailed the deployment of 2144 police members in the railway environment, the construction of 24 police points and the launching of two railway contact points. Victim empowerment programmes included the implementation of the Victims Charter and working inter-departmentally against violence against women and children.
The reduction of remand detainees involved the improvement of case flows and reducing the number of remand detainees. Enhancing the rehabilitation of offenders and reducing recidivism (repeat offenders) involved an increase in development and care programmes.
The Minister noted that the amalgamation of the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) and SAPS would result in the formation of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI). Members of SARS, Financial Intelligence Centre and National Intelligence Agency would provide additional capacity.
Finally the report highlighted the preparations for the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 and the 2010 Soccer World Cup, including practice runs of various possible scenarios and a boost to air capacity.
A: Mr Enver Surty, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, said the transfer of heads of department had been done in the best interests of the country and would enhance service delivery. There was confidence that Mr Vernon Petersen, who had been involved in preparations for hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup, would bring much to the Department of Sports and Recreation and that Ms Xoliswa Sibeko could expedite the rehabilitation of the Department of Correctional Services. Both Heads of Department had been consulted and had consented to the move,
Q: A journalist from The Sowetan asked how the move of Mr Petersen from Correctional Services to Sport and Recreation could be considered wise. She asked whether Mr Petersen had displayed any inadequacies in his previous position.
A: Mr Surty said the cross transfer of Heads of Departments had not occurred without a thorough consultative process and an assessment of the required skills for the two positions.
Q: The same journalist asked what had been done about the 11 000 detainees, since Deputy Minister of Justice Mr Johnny de Lange had, at a previous media briefing, spoken about steps to resolve this issue.
A: Mr Johnny de Lange, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, confirmed that it had been established that there were some 11 000 detainees being held in prisons around the country, who could not afford bail. A process had been initiated to get these detainees back into the courts in order to have them released. He did not know how far the process had progressed. It was a difficult matter since the detainees were spread out and courts had to prepare the necessary papers. It was regarded as a priority and the process was moving forward well. Details would be made available when an updated report was available.
Q: A correspondent from The Business Day asked for an update on the plight of Clive Derby Lewis.
A: Mr Surty said the case of Clive Derby Lewis was before the courts and it was not possible to comment on the possible outcome.
Q: A correspondent from The Sunday Times said it seemed as though the swapping of the Director Generals had been a move of convenience, since Mr Petersen had recently reported on corruption in the Department of Correctional Services, and by the then-Minister. It seemed more than coincidental and implied that the government was shielding the Minister from a corruption investigation.
A: Dr Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of Intelligence, assured the media that the reasons for the transfer had nothing to do with attempting to hinder or quell an investigation, but it was a transfer purely in the interests of improving service delivery. These allegations were unfounded and any investigation by the Joint Ethics Committee would be allowed to take its due course.
Q: A journalist from Radio 702 asked what progress SAPS had made in combating ATM bombings. Apparently these bombings were occurring in neighbouring countries, and the question was asked whether South Africa would also assist the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to clamp down on this type of crime.
Q: A correspondent from Independent Newspapers asked Minister Mthethwa whether private security personnel would have arresting powers.
A: Mr Mthethwa said there had been a breakthrough in ATM crime issues. The crime, however, was still persisting but South Africa would do everything it could to strengthen its own units, as first priority, but could also assist some neighbouring countries, although he noted that it was possible that some were expatriating some criminals who may have escaped.
In respect of the question around private security partnerships, he noted that there was a Memorandum of Understanding. SAPS would continue to police areas but could seek cooperation from private security partners, and to this extent would also provide training, such as on use of radio communications. Any entity wishing to assist government and SAPS was welcome to make the necessary approaches.
Q: A correspondent form SABC Radio News asked how the Minister viewed the shortfall in achieving the stated goal of a 7% to 10% annual reduction in crime, and whether he was still committed to this target. She asked what areas would receive particular focus in an attempt to achieve these targets.
A: Mr Mthethwa pointed out that the target of 7% to 10% was considerably higher than most other countries, who mostly set targets of 1% or 2%, and that this was purposely set view of the nature of the crime, which was mostly contact and violent crime. This distinguished South Africa from other countries, and was a major source of concern. He was concerned that the target had not been achieved. However, since there had been a reduction of around 4,5%, this was an indication that the country was on the right track. Partnerships with other entities would strengthen SAPS abilities. The crime intelligence unit and detectives units were concerned with prevention and would support the special task force teams who cracked down on cash-in-transit heists and ATM bombings.
Q: A journalist from Associated Press asked how many members from the DSO and SAPS would make up the amalgamated DPCI.
A: Mr Cwele said it was the responsibility of the new directorate to develop a mechanism for the appropriate allocation of people from the DSO and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). These numbers would be decided upon by the Minister, and would depend on the decision as to how large the new Unit would have to be. The NPA and SAPS, together with the Department of Safety and Security, had jointly started on the process already.
Q: A correspondent from The Sowetan asked whether the envisioned partnership with private security companies would be rolled out only in the suburbs, or also in townships.
A: Mr Mthethwa said the partnership with private security companies was a pilot project that, if successful, would be extended to other provinces and rural areas as well. One of the challenges was the exclusion of security staff who had not been screened and cleared.
Q: A journalist from The Sunday Times asked whether the perpetrators of the hate speech against Mr Terror Lekota would be prosecuted.
A: Mr Cwele said there should be a crack-down on hate speech and the Cluster appealed to all to observe tolerance and avoid provocation in meetings and rallies. Electoral law defined codes of conduct. Where regulations had been breached perpetrators would face the consequences. Leaders had to instill tolerance in their followers.
Q: The journalist The Sunday Times asked whether people who had been the perpetrators of hate speech, were currently being investigated.
A: Mr Cwele called upon the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to act in order to ensure that people refrained from activities that were provocative. This issue was a political matter. It was part of the heightened competition around the time of elections. Nobody had been charged.
Q: A journalist from Associated Press asked that the question regarding the allocation of DSO and SAPS members to the new unit be answered.
A: Mr Surty answered that the question had been answered, saying that it had been stated that the allocation was in progress, and exact numbers were therefore not yet available.
Q: A journalist asked for comment on the view that South Africa’s laws were “criminal-friendly” and that sufficient sanction was not provided. If this was true, he asked whether this would change.
A: Mr Surty said there was an array of laws for which minimum sentences had been prescribed, and these would be applied in the case of serious violent crimes, whilst upholding the constitutional rights of every person. All personnel involved in the process of justice, from the police to the judicial officers, had to take very seriously both the laws and the objectives of applying these laws without compromise.
Mr de Lange felt the comment had to be taken in context. It was made in the context of recognizing that there were serious crime problems, and the suggestion was made that the legal mechanisms had to strike the right balance between human rights and preventing crime. An example of such a legal mechanism would be the right to remain silent. This had always been considered an absolute right. However, the United Kingdom, which was considered by most people as a very advanced democracy, recognised that this right was subject to certain limitations or conditions, since in certain circumstances the strict application of that right became obstructive. He said all democracies created certain obligations. The President of the ANC was simply asking whether there was the right balance. He stressed again that the context was very important.
Q: A correspondent asked Minster Surty how traditional leaders would be trained to enhance the justice system, whether they were familiar enough with the Constitution, and what their powers would be.
A: Mr Surty said the decision had to be informed by the Bill of Rights in the context of South Africa’s constitutional democracy. These leaders would be trained through the Justice College to become arbitrators. The curriculum would still be decided, but it would be not be too high or difficult a level, as the offences or civil disputes they would be expected to arbitrate over were relatively minor. A number of attorneys already were volunteering their services as Commissioners of the Small Claims Court. These arbitrators would receive a thorough understanding of human rights through their training at the Justice College, and each one would be assessed. Work had started on this process of developing a suitable curriculum and a consultative process had begun with the leaders, consistent with the Bill of Rights.
Q: A journalist from Die Burger asked if people had been warned not to incite violent behaviour at political meetings.
A: Mr Cwele said that in accordance with the electoral code of conduct, anyone perpetrating an offence could be charged, after proper investigation. He confirmed that complaints lodged would be investigated and could result in criminal prosecution.
Mr Surty thanked the journalist for the concern expressed, particularly in view of imminent elections. There was currently not adequate legislation in place but this had been drafted and had already been published for comment, although whether it could be finalised in the time still available might be difficult.
Q: A correspondent from Alliance France Press asked for concrete examples of the kind of agreement between SAPS and the private security industry.
A: Mr Mthethwa said the media had a role to play in encouraging cooperation between SAPS and private security companies. The Memorandum of Understanding between Honeydew SAPS and security companies encompassed specific issues like training in respect of crime scene preservation, the vetting and security screening of employees and the utilisation of joint radio control. It was clear that, based on the 2002 census estimates of one police officer to every 347 citizens, there was a dire need for support. He was sure that the figure would be more serious at present; despite the recruitment of more than 10 000 new police personnel every year, the numbers were still not sufficient. SAPS would control the partnerships. Private security staff contingents could greatly alleviate the situation. There were currently between 95 000 and 98 000 uniformed police. This partnership was a pilot project, the results of which would determine future developments.
Q: A journalist asked the Minister whether there had been an exchange of funds between the security companies and the SAPS. He also noted that the President of the ANC had suggested that the SAPS officials should be paid more. It was pointed out that criminals seemed to be better funded than SAPS. He asked if a possible increase in the pay would change the nature of the police service.
A: Mr Mthethwa said the funding for SAPS came through the public purse and could not be tampered with at will. It required a legislative process. The ongoing struggle against violent crime did highlight the need to give police the ability to apply strong arm tactics, since more than eight police personnel had been murdered in a very short period. The police worked under extremely dangerous circumstances, and this had to be taken into consideration. It was important to recognise the excellent work being done by the majority of police in the country, even to the extent that one police officer was prepared to arrest another caught in wrongdoing. Every effort had to be made to keep their morale high.
The briefing was adjourned.
JUSTICE CRIME PREVENTION & SECURITY CLUSTER
30 OCTOBER 2008
This report represents the progress made by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster, as part of the regular report-back on the work done by the various Clusters in pursuance of the Apex Priorities that were identified at the beginning of this year. One of the objectives of the Cluster is to ensure a seamless, comprehensive and integrated approach.
The report will cover the following broad categories:
Review of the Criminal Justice System
Serious and Violent Crime
Detention and Rehabilitation of offenders
Issues relating to Migration; and
The protection of Major Events.
REVIEW OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
With regard to the Review of the Criminal Justice System, various task teams are coordinating activities relating to the 7 point action plan. The 7 point plan includes aspects such as the development of protocols between departments dealing with court processes and bail, revisiting the cases of awaiting trial detainees that were granted bail but are still in detention because they cannot afford the bail. The plan also involves drafting various pieces of legislation to improve the functioning of the CJS, such as, dealing more effectively with DNA, fingerprints and biometric data.
The case reduction backlog project has been integrated into the Review of the Criminal Justice System process. This entails the usage of courts designated for specific purposes as way intervening in special cases such as xenophobia matters.
REDESIGNATION OF BRANCH COURTS
A key initiative seeks to increase the proximity of justice services to communities, particularly those living in rural and township areas. At the same time it will address some of the historical inequalities around the distribution of justice services.
The process involves re-designating Branch Courts - part of the old, apartheid drawn jurisdictional areas which denied access to justice to millions of people. The re-designation will ensure that they become fully-fledged courts that will not deal with criminal cases only, but with other civil matters as well.
The Notice for the re-designation of 20 of the 90 Branch Courts as proper main courts to provide a full range of court-related services will be published in the Gazette in November 2008. This will address the hardships endured by the communities who receive limited services from Branch Courts and have to commute to the towns and cities to access services such as maintenance, domestic violence, children enquires and deceased estates.
The areas which will have fully fledged courts include Mamelodi, Alexandra in Gauteng, Motherwell in Eastern Cape, Khayelitsha in Western Cape and Ntuzuma in KwaZulu-Natal. The re-designation of the Branch Court will be followed by the re-alignment of magisterial districts with municipal and provincial boundaries to increase access to justice.
MAINSTREAMING THE TRADITIONAL JUSTICE SYSTEM TO ENHANCE ACCESS TO JUSTICE
This year the Traditional Courts Bill, which seeks to mainstream the traditional justice system, was introduced in Parliament. The envisaged legislation provides for the revival of Traditional Courts, enabling less serious criminal cases and civil disputes to be diverted from the already overburdened mainstream courts. Issues such as petty offences and cases that require a restorative justice approach will be dealt with speedily by Traditional Leaders who would have undergone specialised training on mediation and dispute resolution.
PILOTING THE USE OF INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES
It is important that the Department ensure the provision of equal access to justice for all South Africans, with particular focus on the poor and vulnerable.
In line with this, the Department is piloting an initiative that promotes the use of indigenous languages in courts. The pilot will involve selected magisterial courts in all 9 provinces, where the dominant language of that province will be utilised in the courts, which have traditionally utilised English and Afrikaans, making the court processes more accessible and understandable to ordinary citizens.
INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY
The Cluster upholds the independence of the judiciary and recognises the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law in all matters. A key priority is the transformation of the judiciary with regard to gender and race representation, but with the proviso that appointments are made to the Bench on the basis of competence and professional skills.
The Cluster’s Crime Reduction Project continues to be dictated to by the 7-10% annual target that was set by the government in 2004.
For instance, we can cite the following separate incidents that were achieved in the crack down in 419 Scams.
A Japanese national was lured into South Africa by a group of Nigerians with a false investment promise. The SAPS acting on intelligence rescued the man unharmed from a house in Rosettenville, Johannesburg. Two suspects were arrested and appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court on charges of kidnapping.
In another incident seven suspects were arrested for kidnapping in an attempt to extort money from a man’s family by demanding a ransom of 5 million US dollars.
It is believed that this syndicate can be linked to at least four other similar cases. The SAPS believes that they have cracked the syndicate and closed down their headquarters.
Serious and violent crime
The Cluster continues in its attempt to put more resources to the Moral Regeneration Campaign to deal with social crime.
The SAPS has made significant progress in the investigation and prevention of ATM bombings. The approach in dealing with this crime enables the SAPS to deal with any deviation of the modus operandi of the perpetrators. A number of suspects have been arrested.
Some of the successes include:
The arrest of five suspects in
In the North West, four suspects were arrested. Explosives and cash were recovered including an AK 47 rifle, shotgun and three pistols.
A total of 344 suspects were arrested by the SAPS Organised Crime Unit in the period from July to September 2008, with 43 suspects arrested for Cash-in-transit robberies and 17 suspects for ATM bombings.
Partnerships in the fight against crime
The willingness of communities towards the fight against crime plays a critical role in crime reduction.
The Cluster has held public awareness campaigns of the causes and implications of crime; including the purchase of stolen property is a key factor in crime prevention. This programme involved the development of a focused, needs based public education programme, which aims to alter public attitudes and responses to crime and to activities which support crime. It is also vital in forging a national vision around crime prevention.
The role of members of the public in assisting the departments through existing structures such as Community Police Forums (CPFs), reservists as well as Business Against Crime initiatives cannot be under estimated. The Crime Line project with the media has proven to be extremely successful. To date, a total of 506 suspects have been arrested and stolen property, drugs and counterfeit goods worth a total value of R20.4 million were recovered. All the print and electronic media are encouraged to contribute in the fight against crime.
Positive messages reinforcing the Anti-Crime Campaign are being disseminated by partners in the Movement for Good Initiative to the public. This project is being led by the International Marketing Council.
Operation Festive Season
With the festive season approaching, government has had extensive consultations with the private security industry to partner in the fight against crime.
The main focus was ensuring compliance with regulations.
An Operation Festive Season plan has been completed. It will ensure effective crime prevention before, during and after the festive season. The aim will be to ensure safety to our local and foreign tourists. Special attention will be given to the following;
Aggravated armed robberies, including house robberies
Firearms, liquor and offences relating to property
Matters relating to border security
The enforcement of by-laws
The Cluster is planning to address the known impact of the festive season on the increase of children in conflict with the law. Operation Festive Season will deal with the effects of closed schools and children who are left alone at home during school holidays. Communities should play a proactive role in protecting children as potential victims or perpetrators of crime.
Cash-in-transit robberies which had shown a decrease, usually peak during this season. In order to deal with this phenomenon more resources will be channelled towards the implementation of the plan.
Safety on public transport
Two railway contact points -
Victim empowerment programmes
The implementation the Victims Charter and empowerment programmes is one of the Cluster priorities with on emphasis on crimes against women and children.
Violence against women and children will be confronted by all sectors of society, including government and other formations. An interdepartmental plan for the 16 days of Activism: No violence against women and children has been completed. The programme starts on 25 November 2008.
Reduction of Remand Detainees
The Cluster continues to improve interventions aimed at improving case flows and reducing numbers of Remand Detainees. At the end of August 2008, 47 848 remand detainees were incarcerated in Correctional Centres nationally. Of this number 8677 were detained for three months or more, showing a marginal but important decline of less than a percentage point, less by 85 detainees compared to July 2008.
The JCPS Cluster continues to promote the placement of those posing little or no danger to society under correctional supervision in line with relevant legislation. In August 2008, 6549 offenders were placed under correctional supervision and on parole. One of the major challenges adversely affecting these efforts is lack of family and community support for qualifying offenders some of whom have no permanent address to help monitor their adherence to the parole conditions.
Enhancing rehabilitation of offenders and help reduce recidivism (repeat offenders)
Efforts to ensure productive engagement of offenders through various development and care programmes continue to increase with good spin-offs even in terms of reducing offender cost of incarceration to the fiscus.
DSO and SAPS amalgamation
After an elaborate process of consultation by Parliamentary Committees with civil society, SAPS and the DSO, the National Assembly has passed legislation to establish the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI).
In terms of the new legislation selected SAPS and DSO members incorporated into the DPCI will be augmented by seconded personnel with the required expertise and skills from other government bodies such as the South African Revenue Service, Financial Intelligence Centre and National Intelligence Agency. The unit will be an additional capacity in the fight against crime.
The security preparations and resourcing of the SAPS for the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 as well as the 2010 Soccer World Cup are well in advance. Various simulation exercises were held in different provinces. This has been an excellent training opportunity for preparations for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. It involves simulated scenarios and other aspects of (our) contingency plans to deal with any form of airborne and land borne threats. The next simulation exercise will be held in Gauteng during January 2009. As part of the preparations the SAPS has recently acquired two R44 Raven 11 helicopters with a further four to be delivered later this year. These helicopters will boost our air-support capabilities.
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