Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Post- SONA Cluster Media Briefing


05 Mar 2017

The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster held a media briefing to echo the call for 2017 to be the year of unity in action by all South Africans. During the State of the Nation Address, the President emphasised that the fight against crime is an apex priority of government. The Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster said it was committed to ensuring the realisation of the National Development Plan vision of a South Africa where by the year 2030, all people living in South Africa feel safe, have no fear of crime, and are properly served by the criminal justice system (Government Outcome 3)

The briefing was attended by the following persons: Minister of Defence, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Minister of State Security, Mr David Mahlobo; Acting Commissioner of Police Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane, Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Malusi Gigaba; Advocate Jacob Skosana from the Department of Justice; Deputy Ministers, Director-Generals, Senior Managers, and Members of the Media.

Questions and Answers:

Journalist: During post SONA Debate in the National Assembly, the Speaker mentioned that the matter relating to the presence of 441 SANDF Soldiers had been transferred to the Minister of Defence for further investigation. How far was the Minister into the investigation?

Journalist: The Minister called on those who feel their rights were not respected to report to local SAPS stations. What was the Government approach when it comes to foreign Nationals in the Country who feel that they could be victimised if they reported to the Police Stations if such foreign Nationals were undocumented? How does the government deal with it and what was the government stance on this?

Journalist: What was the Minister of Home Affairs’ response to local government approach to foreign Migrants and violence associated with Xenophobia, particularly the Johannesburg Mayor approach to this?

Journalist: On the seven employers that have been charged. When was the inspection undertaken and in what area? Will this inspection continue or was it just a once-off exercise? Does it give credence to the cries of locals that foreign nationals were taking their jobs? How many SANDF Soldiers had been deployed to the border lines and what are the successes?

Journalist: The Police tabled the crime statistics for the 1st three quarters of 2016 in Parliament on Friday. This was the first time it was done since Cabinet decision early last year that crime statistics should be tabled quarterly. What was the reason for the SAPS not doing this on a quarterly basis? Will SAPS be able to give quarterly statistics next month? Had the cluster considered moving on what President Jacob Zuma told the National House Traditional of Leaders last week? The President had told that gathering that the cluster should consider coming out with new laws that would make the fight against crime more effective.  SAPS at Nyanga said they arrested a criminal and the Courts released them on bail. The presentation made reference to the Border Management Agencies getting certain status and responsibilities. The presentation said these agencies were not based in legislation as the border management Bill was yet to be passed by Parliament. Could the Minister elaborate on this?

Journalist: What is your view on the allegations that foreign governments and agencies were working up protests and rebellion internally against the government. Do you think extra measures are required to combat this? The Minister of Finance is concerned about border management agencies taking over customs and excise. Given the diminished returns from SARS, is it not unwise to tamper with something that was working and delivering the goods on customs and excise funds? Apparently, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Finance Minister disagreed on this. Is there any room for a compromise?

Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula: On the deployment of SANDF to SONA, I could easily give an answer but we should shelve it for now because there are parties that have taken the Speaker as well as the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces to Court on this matter. There is an undertaking to the presiding officer that there should be a full report of those who were on the ground in Cape Town and what they were doing on deployment around the SONA. On the question of deployment to the border line, currently there are 15 companies deployed out of 22. This is due to budget constraints. On the successes, SANDF does not work on its own. It works in conjunction with the cluster. The Police have given the statistics about some of its successes. This will show that there has been significant achievement made by this inter departmental collaboration.

Minister Malusi Gigaba:  Should anybody be scared to go to the local Police Station, there are different immigrant organisations where people can direct their complaints. We take the view that undocumented immigrants are human beings and should not be treated inhumanely. Other institutions such as the media are free to report on any transgressions. The Department of Home Affairs is duty bound by law to repatriate undocumented persons in South Africa. The Department is encouraging all foreign Nationals to be documented and enter through recognised points of entry. All Leaders in South Africa are told to be restrained in pronouncements which may result in loss of lives and properties. Crime should not only be associated with immigrants. Crime is crime and is not better when committed by South Africans

On the seven employers that are charged, the inspection was undertaken in Tshwane and in Johannesburg around hotels, panel beating shops, garages, and businesses owned by foreign Nationals and a number of institutions. Prior to the flare up of anxiety and fear in the country, the Department had issued a statement that it will meet with various businesses, and farmers’ unions to discuss the issue of employment of South African citizens. This will be an ongoing process as the Department wants compliance with South African laws. This had been undertaken with the support of the cluster as a whole. 147 people were arrested for not being in possession of documents as well as for drug related offence. This included 7 Managers. It helps if the government leads this intervention so that managers can be charged for contravening SA Laws. This will ensure a reversal of the recruitment practices and ensure that South Africans get the job.

Minister Mapisa-Nqakula has already addressed the deployment of SANDF to the border line but I need to emphasise that the SANDF was employed to manage the border line because the border management authority has not yet been established. The National Defence Force has done incredible work in managing the border line and ensure that it is kept safe. The Departments suffer from resource constraints so there are areas around the country that are leaking. The Department hopes that with the resources-creating collaboration, the management of the border line will be improved to address those leakages as well as encourage the Nationals of the neighbouring states to enter the Country as legal immigrants.

On the Border Management Agencies that are not based on legislation, there is no legislation yet but it is at the final stage of the Parliamentary process. There is an expectation that by next week Tuesday, the Portfolio Committee will approve it clause by clause and be able to move it forward to Parliament so that there can be a second reading debate and thereafter the actual work of border management authority can start. It does help to consider all views and ask balanced questions or make balanced statements. The Border Management Bill which is before the Parliament states that all revenue collection will go to the National Revenue Fund. The customs and excise function at the point of entry is that when a truck or goods arrive, 90% of the payment would have been made to the National Revenue Fund through EFT. A clause has been inserted in the Bill that the remaining 10% should go to NFR as soon as it is collected.

Absolutely nothing goes to the Department of Home Affairs. The enforcement and inspection agencies are the ones at the point of entry. Those responsible for revenue collection are not at the point of entry Concerns raised have been addressed and there is no more room required for compromise as all compromise necessary in this regard has been made.

Acting Commissioner of Police: The government of ANC always tries to know how the Communities are faring. The Communities have made a plea to the government that they need to live freely. It is reasonable that after 22 years of democracy as well as 22 years after the Constitution was enacted into law, instruction has been given to the Police to review what was working and what was not. A lot has been done in the fight against crime and corruption but the experience of the people on the ground and the ability to ensure successful prosecution is a challenge. There was therefore a need to strengthen certain laws so that criminals will know that crime does not pay. This is not abnormal. This particular process to review legislation must be supported.

Minister Mahlobo: If you look at the world today, there are a lot of challenges. Countries one way or the other are competing. There have been wars amongst Countries and the world is much more unstable now. It is a fact that in a number of Countries, there has been unconstitutional regime change. There is a rise in terrorism as well as a lot of militarisation in recent times. South Africa is therefore not an exception to terrorism. There are state and non-state actors at play and wanting to exert influence over South Africa. Some seek to influence in a positive way. South Africa is sovereign and did not need a call from another country on what to do. There are those who are State actors and others who are pushed by capitalist systems or issues of economy. Some other Countries will push to influence another country on the basis of the former’s national security. For it to succeed however, there are people who are collaborating wittingly or unwittingly. The duty of South Africa as a State is to increase its civic education and awareness. Some Countries use issues like education, unemployment as well as the media to win the hearts of individuals. The duty of the state is to have counter intelligence measures so that people can continue to perform their socio-economic activities without distractions. South Africa should not be a failed State as it has a duty to defend its sovereignty and integrity.

The Commission of Police: On the question of successes, I cannot break the figures because the figures that would have been presented are not an effort of the Police but the cluster. This includes efforts of the Defence   force where it executes its mandates in respect of drug-related arrests, arrests of undocumented persons, recovery of stolen vehicles, and confiscation of illegal weapons. The crime statistics are available the first month following the end of the quarter. The Department was unable to table the statistics in the first two quarters as a result of the process in place. Once the consolidation was over, the statistics are tabled before Cabinet, the Portfolio Committee on Police and afterwards the Public. I cannot say we will release the statistics next month. The quarter will end on 31 March. The Department will work together with Statistics South Africa with verification and auditioning of Statistics in preparation of the annual report. At the opportune moment, SAPS will present the statistics.

Advocate Skosana: On arrests made by SAPS and the Courts quickly released them on bail, Minister Mahlobo answered that question partly on call by the President to review the legislations. Minister Masutha has initiated a process to review how to strengthen the bail laws as the system being used now was inherited from old legislation. There are very limited grounds under which bail is granted. The Courts are easily persuaded to release people on bail if there is proof that such offenders will attend court and will not interfere with the witnesses. There should be a comprehensive review so that there can be an efficient legal framework so that everyone in South Africa was protected by law. Minister Masutha has said there is a need to create a new criminal justice strategy so that the law enforcement and justice cluster will look at the weaknesses and put systems in place to address it.

Journalist:  What is the intelligence services doing to counter false narrative on social media. It has been proved that many accounts on the social media are fake. What means are in place to act against this? There is no clear plan as to how grants will be paid by 1 April. One of the plans that have been thought of is cash payment which could offer a myriad of problems. Is the security cluster ready and able to deal with that should that option be taken by the Department of Social Development?

Journalist: Do you think there is a failure in policing as regards issues raised by residents of Tshwane and Rosettenville Communities about crimes perpetuated by foreign Nationals, such as prostitution and drug dealing. Communities have taken it upon themselves because they feel the Police are doing nothing. Can you assure the Communities that you are doing something around this issue?

Journalist: Is the Acting Police Commissioner saying that as a result of the processes of implementation of tabling before Cabinet, the Police are unable to release the statistics as per Cabinet instruction?

Journalist: Minister Mahlobo mentioned that there was a time frame for the review of legislation. Could the Minister be more specific? Advocate Skosana has confused me by bringing up a review of bail legislation because there was already a stringent bail legislation. Bail is not easily granted under schedule 5 and 6 offences which include rape, murder. Please clarify.

Journalist: Has there been any conviction of the seven Managers for illegal employment of migrants. Under what laws was this done and what are the penalties?

Minister Mapisa-Nqakula: What has made the cluster happy is the assurance received from the Minister of Social Development that come 1April, the money will be paid to the recipients of these grants. This is the narrative the media should send to the people of South Africa. The way it has been reported is sending panic to ordinary South Africans who did not know what is going on. The view of the security cluster is that it did not matter what it takes, the State will have to make sure it is done. The media should not cause panic among people who depended solely on this money.

Minister Mahlobo said he will give an answer from the point of view of his Department of State Security. There is a nature on how recipients received the grants. Payment of cash was not a new innovation because in some Communities this was the only option because of the infrastructure that is available. If this is the route the Department of Social Development and SASSA will use it would have the support of the cluster. On that day the relevant law enforcement Agencies will be there to ensure that the site is secured until people go back home.

Social media is one of the cyber spaces that provide endless opportunities. It also has its own risks. The intention of State Security is to continue civic education and promotion of awareness. The Department is contemplating regulating the cyber space. We will need the people to be with us when we regulate the space so that the Department will not be accused of interfering with human rights. Human rights and National Security are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent. The media must avoid being judgmental by saying that there was a failure from the Police. The route cause must be addressed. There should not be a rush to say there was a security failure. Those who were supposed to act before it became a security issue did not do so.

 Acting Police Commissioner: The Department has responded adequately to this matter when it dealt with the challenges that were faced in Pretoria West, Mamelodi and Rosettenville. The Department has made an undertaking that it is intensifying its policing operations in those areas.  SAPS have called for people with concrete information on Police Officers who are working together with people that break the law so that SAPS can take action against such officers. Last Friday when the crime statistics were released, the Department made visible the number of successes recorded in respect of those crimes that are dependable on Police action. SAPS will not be judgmental. There are laws that must be respected by all.

You may not have captured me correctly. I said the crime statistics are available in the first month at the end of the quarter. SAPS make the statistics public after a process is followed. This process requires a path. The statistics are available at the end of the quarter for operational purposes. Once the process has been gone through, the statistics are made public.

Minister Gigaba said the steps taken to deal with policing and intelligence matters emphasise the whole of government as well as the whole of society approach that is highlighted in the statement. It is important to act in an integrated fashion as government to highlight the challenges raised relating to houses that have been hijacked from the owners and converted to crime dens. The employment of non-South Africans in South African businesses. 56 businesses were inspected, 147 people were arrested, and 7 Managers were charged as a result of working together through the National Joint Operation Centre. One business employed 46 undocumented immigrants. This is a blatant violation of the South African law. People should remember the devastating effect this had in 2015 when Kwa-Gina employed undocumented immigrants. Thousands of people were displaced, 7 lives were lost, hundreds of properties were destroyed, and relationship between South Africa and its neighbours was ruined. Businesses must understand that these laws have been promulgated in a balanced way. Nothing should be done that would warrant devastating consequences. The Immigration Act and the new visa regulations were promulgated in 2014. The Country was moving towards the implementation and enforcement of those regulations. The Department was taking action against the 7 Managers. It will collaborate with businesses in the implementation of the South African laws so that it can get South Africans into productive employment. The conviction of the 7 managers has not taken place. They have been charged and if the Department was successful, there will be conviction according to the Immigration Act and the visa Regulation of 2014.The penalty is to pay a fine or serve a two-year sentence in jail. This is what the Department hoped to successfully achieve.

Minister Mapisa-Nqakula: I would like to thank all who attended the media briefing and wish everyone a happy Sunday Lunch.

The briefing adjourned.