Minister of Justice and Correctional Services (Department of Justice and Constitutional Development) Speech & response by DA
16 Jul 2019
Minister for Justice and Correctional Services, Mr Ronald Lamola, gave his Budget Vote Speech on the 16 July 2019
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable Members of the National Assembly
Members of the Judiciary
Heads of Departments and Entities linked to the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services
Distinguished guests present
Greetings to you all!
I have the great honour today of presenting the Budget Policy Statement on Vote 21 of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for the financial year 2019/ 2020. Vote 21 also covers the budgets of several entities and institutions linked to the overall mandate of the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services.
This being my inaugural Budget Policy Statement in my capacity as Minister for Justice and Correctional Services, with profound humility, I wish to dedicate this address to a special compatriot, a champion for youth development and meaningful participation in the economy; the late Comrade Sindiso Magaqa, indoda emadodeni, the former Secretary-General of the African National Congress Youth League, who was cowardly gunned down two years ago. Last Friday, July 12, 2019, marked the second anniversary of his demise. The trial of his murder will commence this October.
The unhappy augury of the circumstances surrounding his death remains with us as the killing of political activists and ordinary citizens runs contrary to the ideals of our democracy. This state of affairs endures as various typologies of violent and contact crimes continue to afflict many families in our country. We are reminded that the victims of these crimes are not mere statistics; families are left devastated and communities impoverished by the loss.
The Department and some of the entities linked to this Budget Vote 21 play a critical role in the criminal justice value chain: the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) which investigates maladministration and corruption, the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) which prosecutes the offenders, and the Department which provides administration for the courts that adjudicate over these cases.
The budget allocation of the Department amounts to R21,1 billion, which is inclusive of the allocation for the NPA and transfers to the two constitutional bodies, namely the Public Protector and the South African Human Rights Commission. Additionally, the budget allocation also provides for transfers to the Information Regulator, the Legal Aid South Africa and the SIU. This budget enables the Department and its entities to execute their respective constitutional and statutory mandates. Vatsonga vari vana va munhu vatsemelana nhloko ya njiya. Ku pfumaleka kamali swiyendla hi ntirha hi leswi ntsongo hi nga na swona.
The revelations of high levels of brazen corruption that have come to the fore at the various Commissions of Inquiry are serious affront to our constitutional democracy. As you know, these include the Commission of Inquiry into Tax Administration and Governance at the South African Revenue Services, the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation and the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of State Capture, are very chilling. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development will continue to provide the necessary administrative support to enable these Commissions of Inquiry to do their work and thereby strengthen the rule of law and our constitutional democracy.
Further, the Department will also provide budgetary support to the establishment of the Investigative Directorate under the auspices of the NPA to enable it to deal with the relevant cases emanating from these commissions. The Investigative Directorate will work collaboratively with a range of entities, both governmental as well as non-governmental including, the SIU, the SIU Special Tribunal and the South African Police Services, in particular the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI), the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and the South African Revenue Service (SARS), to ensure that perpetrators of fraud and corruption are brought to book speedily. In order to ensure the speedy civil recovery of the proceeds of crime, I intend to finalise the regulations of the SIU Special Tribunal during the course of this week.
Recognising the key role of the NPA in the fight against crime and the restoration of respect for the rule of law, the President, during his State of the Nation address, stated: “We have asked the National Director of Public Prosecutions to develop a plan to significantly increase the capacity and effectiveness of the NPA, including to ensure effective asset forfeiture”. In order to strengthen the human resource capacity at the NPA we have approved the hiring of prosecutors in 19 one-person stations, and resuscitated the Aspirant Prosecutors Programme. For this year, we have admitted 97 Justice and NPA officials, combined, who have appropriate legal qualifications and have expressed interest to participate in the programme.
However, much more needs to be done to resource the NPA to enable it to meet the demands for its services. For example, the fiscally-induced freeze on all hiring of staff since 2015, resulting in 685 vacant prosecutor posts as at the end of June, needs to be reconsidered so that the NPA can recruit much needed middle-to-senior level positions as a matter of urgency, especially in the specialised units. While recognising the current fiscal constraints, the Department will need to engage with National Treasury regarding measures to enable the adequate capacitation of the NPA. As the Department will further engage the NPA and National Treasury to understand better the request and implications of private donor funding because as we leave no stone unturned to ensure all criminal cases are prosecuted, we will nonetheless endeavour to do nothing that will undermine the independence and integrity of prosecution in our courts.
Furthermore, we’ve noted the recent judgment on the Rodrigues matter related to TRC cases. We assure victims with similar cases that interference with prosecutorial independence of the NPA will not be tolerated. We continue towards a durable and sustainable solution to all TRC related cases including consideration of interest of victims.
Let us remind ourselves that Foreign Direct Investment thrives where the rule of law triumphs. Accordingly, the role of the JCPS Cluster constitutes an important pillar of our country’s economic revival and growth strategy. The functioning of the criminal justice value chain is analogous with a relay race: The handing over of the baton by one athlete to another represents the different stages in the criminal justice system. The court’s outcome resembles the finishing line, and the spectators as end users of the system, among them, the victims of various crimes. We, as different relay athletes in the criminal justice race have often dropped the baton at various stages in the value chain and in the process, developed the habit of blaming other athletes. The success of our justice system depends on an unbroken relay through the faithful stewardship of all involved.
It is in this context that the comprehensive reform of the justice system includes the overhauling of the old-era Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 to ensure that is attuned to the constitutional democracy of our time. In this regard, we will draft a Bill that will culminate in the enactment of new legislation which will flow from the Integrated Criminal Justice Framework which was approved by Cabinet in 2017. The envisaged legislation will also consider the victims of crime and witnesses as the main beneficiaries of the system.
Invariably, the modernisation of the justice system lies at the heart of our transformation trajectory, which is guided by the National Development Plan and the seven-point plan approved by Cabinet. The Integrated Justice System (IJS) is an important programme through which the JCPS cluster seeks to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. It is driving a multi-departmental effort aimed at increasing the probability of successful crime investigation, prosecution, sentencing and rehabilitation of offenders.
The Court Recording Technology (CRT) system is another important tool of the IJS, which has been rolled out in over 2000 court rooms across the country. A further 146 mobile recorders are used in periodical courts. The CRT enables the efficient recording and retrieval of court proceedings, improved quality of audio recordings and secure storage and retrieval of the electronic audio recordings at multiple locations. In addition, the CRT system has the ability to provide operational data which will assist in the efficient scheduling of cases. The data captured through the system enables both the Judiciary and court administration to obtain further insights to improve court processes.
The modernisation project is also being extended to other programmes of the Department, including the Office of the Master. With the roll-out of the Master’s Own Verification Information Technology (MOVIT) system to 292 Magistrates’ Courts, members of the public no longer have to travel to the 6 Masters’ Offices to lodge applications for deceased estate benefits. The Paperless Estate Administration System (PEAS), has also been rolled out to 278 Magistrates’ Offices, making it possible for the deceased estates with a value of two hundred and fifty thousands (R250 000-00) to be reported at local service points which are closest to where the majority of people live. Through these initiatives, access to justice has become a reality for many of our citizens, particularly the poor and those who live in far flung rural areas.
The Office of the Master is also working on a Master’s Online project, which is scheduled to be implemented by 2020. This project aims to streamline the Trust registration process and will assist in curbing fraud and improving efficiencies across the Master’s services value chain.
The processing of maintenance payments is a critical area that requires our special attention. In the 2018/2019 financial year, the Department has paid an amount of R1,297 billion to maintenance beneficiaries. This amount translates into an estimated R108 million per month which could have been collected at the courts through cash payments. In order to manage the risks associated with the manual handling of such large amounts of cash in our courts, the Department is encouraging parties to opt for electronic payment of their maintenance benefits. Although the Department has successfully facilitated electronic fund transfers (EFTs), which have reduced long queues at our courts, maintenance payments remain a major challenge for many beneficiaries.
It is important that as we embark on the modernisation of our justice system, we embrace the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, particularly in facilities management. A move towards smart buildings and courts that use sophisticated information technology will generate huge savings in energy costs, space usage and indeed personnel, without reducing the opportunities of employment.
The footprint of our courts is in total 723 Magistrates Courts and 21 Superior Courts, which are spread across the length and breadth of our country. These exclude the periodical courts which sit at certain police stations and correctional centres. The majority of these courts, save for the 58 that were built and revamped after the advent of democracy in 1994, still bear the historical baggage and impediments that continue to hinder the Department’s endeavour to provide equal access to justice. A total of 25 courts, including all Superior Courts, will be part of the Total Facilities Management solution implemented by the Department of Public Works. This will bring relief to users of our facilities as breakdowns in equipment often disrupt court sittings and contribute to the delay in the finalisation of cases.
We have, in respect of minor repairs and what is termed day-to-day maintenance, come-up with initiatives that will shorten the turn-around time in resolving repeated break-downs to the aging court infrastructure. These measures include appointing personnel with the requisite qualifications in building management and maintenance. The Department is also implementing an in-source model which allows sentenced inmates and participants in the Expanded Public Works Programme to be engaged for minor maintenance works. For example, the Middleburg local seat of the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court, which commenced work on 1 May 2019, was renovated through the in-source model which involved inmates from a nearby correctional centre. This 12-month project costed the Department less than R2,9 million, compared to initial projections of around R20 million estimated for an outsourced model. An outsourced model could have easily taken more than three years to finish the work.
Undoubtedly, the country is experiencing an upsurge in incidents of sexual and gender-based violence. South Africa is one of the countries with the highest rate of femicide in the world. The Department has completed the first phase of the establishment of a Femicide Watch, which is a data-bank which will enable it to collate data and pick up trends, profile the victims and perpetrators in order help develop appropriate preventive and adequate responses to this phenomenon in our society. In addition, the Department will continue to roll-out dedicated sexual offences courts through which we implement a range of measures, including the installation of technology which allows the evidence of minor children to be transmitted in a child-friendly and secure facility.
To date, we have established 92 sexual offences courts and a further 16 will be rolled out in the current financial year. These dedicated sexual offences courts, are backed by 55 Thuthuzela Care Centres and continue to yield impressive conviction rates. For the 2018/ 2019 financial year the convictions recorded in these courts was 74.4%.
There is on-going work in transforming the Office of the State Attorney. This area is of significance, given the unprecedented levels of litigation against the State. Some of the known inefficiencies include a shortage of legal trained personnel and the inability of the State to attract competent practitioners. We are giving urgent attention to this area of work and will soon be approaching Cabinet with a Business Case and Draft Bill containing recommendations that will take the Department and the country forward.
An efficient Office of the State Attorney is also essential for the transformation of the legal profession as a whole, particularly in relation to the allocation of State legal work or what is loosely termed ‘briefing patterns’. The Department has increased to 80% the target in the 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan for the allocation of State legal work to Previously Disadvantaged Individuals (Practitioners).
Legal Aid SA continues to do sterling work in ensuring access to justice and safeguarding the right to a fair trial by people who are indigent and unable to purchase legal services for that purpose. It continues to expand its policy on the coverage civil cases, over and above the extensive coverage of criminal cases. As part of this expansion, Legal Aid SA will continue to engage with the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform on the need for Legal Aid SA to assist land claimants in the prosecution of their claims.
This work, viewed collectively with the plans of the Portfolio, guided by the National Development Plan: Vision 2030, dovetail with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end extreme poverty and fight injustice and inequality during the next 15 years.
The coming into effect of the Legal Practice Act on 1 November 2018 which, among others, established the Legal Practice Council and provincial councils, is a real game changer. The Legal Practice Council, as a new regulatory structure for both the advocates and attorneys’ professions, is now in place, and provincial councils are following suit.
I have already met with the Council and have agreed on measures and mechanisms that will foster cooperation in respect of matters that require our joint action and intervention. Among these is the Legal Services Charter which will confront the barriers of entry which have prevented our young graduates from entering the profession. The statistics that have been shared with me in preparation of today’s debate are appalling as they do not represent the society we have become, a quarter of a century into democracy. For example, only 53 of the total number of 549 silks are women and a mere 11 of them are African women.
The Department has a critical role in developing and sustaining our hard-earned constitutional democracy. We have just emerged from successful national and provincial election. In order to sustain our democracy, the Department advances programmes that are geared at improving the lives of all citizens, upholding the rule of law, promoting equality and ensuring the advancement of human rights and freedoms.
One of the efforts of the Department in this regard, is the National Action Plan (NAP) to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance. The Plan was approved by Cabinet on 27 February 2019. The Deputy Minister will provide more details in this regard.
As part of its legislative programme, the Department will promote the following Bills this financial year:
- Revival of The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill which has already been introduced into Parliament the 5th Parliament and was being considered by the Justice and correctional Services Portfolio Committee;
- Revival of The Traditional Courts Bill, which was passed by the National Assembly of the 5th Parliament, which was awaiting consideration by the NCOP;
- Introduce a Bill which will provide for the establishment of a Land Court which is aimed at promoting land justice and the democratisation of land ownership. Through this Bill, we aim to address some of the challenges that have been experienced with the current Land Claims Court dispensation;
- Introduce The Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill to ensure compliance with Courts judgments which found certain provisions to be unconstitutional;
- The Judicial Matters Amendment Bill.
What I have just outlined is a fraction of the programmes and plans of the Department.
The Department’s broad mandate and those of the entities linked to it require a crop of capable and well-equipped staff to bring the all the plans which are articulated in the Department’s Annual Performance Plan to fruition. Sidzinga bantfu labatimisele kusebentela ininguzimu africa. To achieve this, the Department must retain a cadre of employees possessed with the requisite skills and competencies. Accordingly, the budget allocation for Compensation of Employees for the Department’s staff complement which is in excess of 15,000, is the Department’s largest cost driver. This headcount excludes the 1880 permanent magistrates and about 300 acting magistrates whose compensation is a direct charge against the National Revenue Fund.
The following is a breakdown of the budget allocation which includes transfers to the five entities which form part of this vote:
- R1.958 billion goes to Legal Aid South Africa.
- R31.4 million to the Office of Public Protector.
- R363 million to the Special Investigating Unit.
- R189.2 million to the South African Human Rights Commission.
- R2.384 billion as a Direct Charge to the National Revenue Fund in respect of Magistrates’ salaries.
The 2019/20 budget allocation represents an overall year-on-year increase of 7% mainly due to an amount of R272.9 million specifically allocated for the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
Our efforts and, by extension, the health of our nascent and fledgling democracy will be measured by the degree of progress we make towards building an inclusive economy, the substantial reduction of unemployment, especially amongst the youth, the eradication of gender based violence and the creation of a conducive environment for the advancement of the Rule of Law. We are fully conscious of the important role that the Justice sector must play in advancing the agenda of radical socio-economic transformation to realise those transformative ideals and to grow South Africa together. Twenty five years after the advent of our Constitutional democracy, we remain committed to the vision of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
In this context, allow me to express my profound gratitude to my predecessors in this portfolio, in its various configurations, who have since the democratic breakthrough of 1994, starting with the pioneering work of the esteemed late Minister Dullah Omar, worked tirelessly to bring us to where we are today. The journey to world class, accessible, affordable and sustainable civil and criminal justice system value chains, is still long, but remains within our grasp. Accumulatively, South Africa is today better than what it was in 1994.
However, as Tata Madiba put it, after climbing the hills and mountains in the 25 years of democracy, we have come to realise that there are more mountains to climb. And we have concluded that this can only be attained through radical socio-economic transformation as the second phase of our national democratic transition.
I also wish to take this opportunity to thank the Portfolio Committee for its constructive engagement, the support received so far from the Office of the Chief Justice and all entities reporting to the Ministry and aligned to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Allow me also to thank officials from the Ministry and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for the work they have put in making this occasion a success.
Allow me to thank my sister Constance, who is in the public gallery today for taking me to school when my parents could not afford to do so. If it was not for her contributions, Honourable Members, I would not be standing before you today - I would be heading my father’s cattle in the village.
Finally, in honour of the memory of Sindiso Magaqa, I present this Budget Vote 21 of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the Entities.
I thank you!
Address by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Hon JH Jeffery, MP, in the Budget Vote Debate on Vote 21: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, E249, National Assembly, 16 July 2019
Deputy Speaker / Honourable House Chairperson,
Chair of the Portfolio Committee,
The Director-General and all other heads of entities within the Justice family,
Ladies and gentlemen,
For a long time, the majority of our people were excluded from the justice system, unable to access justice services and unable to enforce their rights.
Today, our justice system serves everyone in our country.
Our Small Claims Courts improve access to justice and make civil justice inexpensive, less formal and accessible to those who cannot afford litigation in the ordinary civil courts. These courts are used to settle minor civil disputes and claims of up to R20 000 between parties without representation by an attorney, in an informal manner.
When Small Claims Courts were first introduced in 1985 they were in Bloemfontein, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Rustenburg and Springs. And even in 1994, at the dawn of our democracy, these courts were still mostly in white and urban areas.
Today we have 415 Small Claims Courts, with an extra 49 additional places of sitting, across the country. In 2018/19, these courts disposed of 56 000 cases, with claims to the value of R290m. The Department is currently evaluating the legislative framework governing small claims courts. We want to ensure that these courts evolve in line with the Constitution, as these courts pre-date the Constitution, and that some of the procedures are further streamlined to make it even more effective.
Under the apartheid regime, many were charged with crimes, often political crimes, and left to face a repressive, unjust and inhumane justice system. Most South Africans were denied access to courts or legal representation. For example, in 1992, a mere two years before the dawn of our democracy, a staggering 150 000 convicted persons were sentenced to imprisonment without any legal representation. In 1993, an estimated 60% of accused persons in the regional courts were unrepresented, while in the district courts about 89% of accused persons were unrepresented.
Today Legal Aid SA continues to champion the rights of all persons to access justice through the provision of independent, accessible and quality legal aid services in criminal and civil legal matters. In 2018/2019, Legal Aid SA took on a total of over 416 000 new matters, of which 362 000 were criminal matters and nearly 54 000 civil matters. The provision of legal advice, in order to empower communities on their legal rights and responsibilities, benefitted 308 000 people, via its national footprint of 68 Local and 68 Satellite Offices, the Legal Aid Advice Line and consultations with remand detainees. In total, 724 000 persons were assisted by the organisation in 2018/19 – of these, 16 000 were children. Matters involving children continue to receive priority. In addition to providing legal representation to all children in conflict with the law, Legal Aid SA also does individual tracking of children who are incarcerated for periods in excess of one month in correctional facilities. Legal Aid SA received its 17th consecutive unqualified audit opinion in 2018/2019, confirming the organisation’s commitment to the responsible, accountable and prudent spending of public resources. I want to take this opportunity to bid farewell and sincerely thank the former Chairperson of Legal Aid SA, Judge President JP Mlambo, as well as the outgoing CEO, Ms Vidhu Vedalankar, for their immense contributions to the success that Legal Aid SA is today.
We are continuing to look at ways of increasing access to justice. Community advice offices are often the very first port of call for persons or communities seeking legal assistance. We are therefore pleased that we are finalizing the policy framework on community advice offices and to regulate community-based paralegals. This will be finalised upon the development of a funding model which is currently being prepared. Sustainable funding is vital and we are looking at options around a mixed funding model to ensure the long term sustainability of community advice offices.
When it comes to the sheriffs’ profession, very often the first person someone meets when dealing with the civil justice system will be the sheriff and or his or her deputies. Sheriffs play an extremely important role in the justice system as they serve court processes and execute warrants and orders of court. The continuous development of our court rules and processes will no doubt also impact on the traditional way of work of the sheriff.
In May this year I appointed 24 new sheriffs to fill vacant offices countrywide and for the first time in our history more women (14) than men (10) were appointed as sheriffs. Where, in the past, the sheriffs’ profession was overwhelmingly white and male, at the end of February 2019, of the 254 sheriffs operating nationally, 31% were female and 69% male; 36,2% are White and 63,8% are Black.
Our Department also continues to implement programmes and activities aimed at enhancing the protection of the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex persons through the work of our National Task Team on LGBTI Rights. For those who may not be that familiar with the work of the National Task Team, the NTT is a very successful partnership between government and civil society and was named by the UN’s Office of the High Commission on Human Rights as a best practice model and international case study of government and civil society co-operation.
South Africa also recently co-sponsored a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution to renew, for a second three-year term, the mandate of the U.N. Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Out of the 39 pending hate crime cases that were being tracked by the NTT’s Rapid Response Team, 10 of these cases were recently finalized with convictions of life imprisonment for both rape and murder.
In the 2019/20 financial year, our Department will convene a National Summit on the Protection of LGBTI Rights in South Africa. To further ensure that the criminal justice system protects the rights of the LGBTI persons who have been victims of violence, we will also roll out the Guide for Service Providers in the Criminal Justice system on the Protection of the Rights of LGBTI Persons, as well as assist SAPS with the roll out of the Standard Operating Procedure for SAPS officials on LGBTI Rights.
We also continue our work to protect the human rights of those living with HIV/AIDS. Last month we - together with the South African National Aids Council - launched the National Human Rights Plan in response to Human Rights-Related Barriers to HIV and TB services to, amongst other, reduce stigma and discrimination, to sensitize and train health workers and service providers, increase legal literacy campaigns, and strengthen access to legal support services for those living with HIV/AIDS and TB.
With regards to the National Sexual Offences Register, I think it is important to repeat what I had said in the Committee. The registry is not yet implementable and that its implementation should be reconsidered.
Currently only persons convicted of sexual offences against children and disabled persons will be placed on the registry. Other sexual offences cases will not appear.
An additional factor is that after several years a person can be removed from the registry. The main question is whether this registry is necessary, especially since any employer - not only those who work with children and mentally disabled people - can go to SAPS to determine if a prospective employee has a criminal record.
The information of the sexual offences registry will be confidential which is counterintuitive considering that employers can go to SAPS for this information. These are but some of the policy issues that must be considered before the registry can come into operation.
We should have no illusions about the fact that levels of racism, prejudice and intolerance are increasing – one simply has to look at social media to see this.
Therefore, in addition to what the Minister has highlighted in terms of the National Action Plan against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the Prevention of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, there are also Equality Courts which can assist.
The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act provides for the designation of Equality Courts to adjudicate matters specifically relating to infringements of the right to equality, unfair discrimination and hate speech.
The Act stipulates that all High Courts are automatically designated as Equality Courts and all Magistrates’ Courts have been designated as Equality Courts. This has improved access to justice as the public can now go to their nearest Magistrates’ Court.
Some 473 cases were registered in the Equality Courts countrywide in 2018/19. Of the complaints that were reported at the Equality Courts nationally in 2018/19, over 50% of the reported complaints relate to unfair discrimination, followed by hate speech with 30%.
Given the relatively low number of cases registered in some provinces, we intend to embark an awareness campaigns to make everyone aware of the existence of the Equality Courts and the types of matters that are dealt with by these courts. Two provinces have been identified to have Equality Court awareness sessions where we will partner with Legal Aid SA, Chapter 9 Institutions and other role-players.
When this House passed our Prevention and Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act, we said that the search for improved socio-economic circumstances and the demand for the services of victims of trafficking contribute to making persons vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking.
We passed the legislation because we were concerned by the increase of trafficking in persons, especially women and children.
In April this year, the Department launched the National Policy Framework on Trafficking in Persons in South Africa which is a tool for the implementation, management and monitoring of the TIP Act.
Key activities include the establishment of an information system to track TIP cases inside and outside the country. It will assist us to generate statistics of TIP cases including assessing trends, thereby enabling government to improve its efforts aimed at fighting trafficking in persons.
Other activities include the launch of the training manual on the prevention and combating of trafficking in persons and sector-specific training manuals for the Departments of Social Development, Health, Home Affairs and Labour.
One of our Department’s main priorities is to ensure that persons know what their human rights are and where to go when those rights are infringed. A democracy cannot flourish, let alone function, if we do not actively promote awareness of human rights.
The main objective of the Socio-Economic Justice (SEJA) Programme is to facilitate the realisation of socio-economic rights for vulnerable and marginalized groups and the strengthening of civil society organisations in the social justice sector. Some Members may know that SEJA is coming to an end this year. This programme has been extremely successful when it comes to increasing awareness of constitutional rights and enhancing participatory democracy.
We are pleased to advise that the SEJA Programme has met or exceeded all its targets on the 2018/19 performance indicators, with 3,8 million people reached by multimedia campaigns to raise awareness and knowledge of the Constitution – nearly double the set target of 2 million.
Since its inception in 2014 up to March this year, SEJA has reached 34,4 million people – 34 million people who now have a better understanding of their human rights and how to access them.
In addition, programmes were implemented to sustain increased awareness and knowledge of constitutional rights, grants have been awarded to civil society organisations working in the human rights sector to promote awareness and research programmes were conducted on the implementation of socio-economic rights.
Despite the end of SEJA, the Department will continue with programmes to increase constitutional education, human rights awareness and participatory democracy.
South Africa’s commitment to multilateralism is realised by our dedicated and full participation in international, continental and regional organisations. We continue to support the work that is done by the United Nations, the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). South Africa deposited its Initial Country Report to the United Nations Committee on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and was invited by the UN Committee to present this report in October last year. The feedback was positive and the Committee expressed their gratitude to South Africa for developing jurisprudence on the justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights and for promoting the human rights agenda within the United Nations system. Just before the elections, we presented our periodic report to the Committee against Torture (CAT). The 5th Parliament also ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and it comes into effect this Saturday – the 20th of July 2019.
Chairperson, Honourable Members,
In two days’ time we celebrate the birth of President Nelson Mandela. Sello Hatang writes about Mandela Day and says that it isn’t enough for people to take action against poverty for an hour and seven minutes on July 18 each year, as this will not change systems and structures.
Instead, we should use the campaign as a tool for social justice.
We echo this call for social justice for all.
Madiba said: “Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.”
When it comes to access to justice for all, there have been many milestones – and we are more than ready for the road ahead.
I thank you!