The Office of Criminal Justice System Review (OCJSR) provided the Committee with details of the Seven Point Plan intended to promote a criminal justice system which was integrated and modernised, with all relevant departments in the value chain operating in cooperation towards greater efficiency.
The seven points of the plan were:
- Alignment through a single vision and mission for the Criminal Justice System (CJS) with congruent objectives, plans, priorities and performance measurement targets.
- Establish a new and re-aligned CJS coordinating and management structure that flowed in a seamless manner from the Cabinet to the courts in order to improve end-to-end coordination through national and provincial Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) structures.
- Practical short and medium term interventions to improve the performance of all courts.
- Component parts with a critical need for intervention.
- Establish an integrated and seamless national CJS information system.
- Implement a programme of modernisation of the CJS.
- Partnerships with communities.
Highlights of performance included more than 20 high level protocols, which gave guidelines to departments on what needed to happen in terms of blockage areas. The DCS now also had a functional Remand Detention Branch at national level, which had only been an idea when the review began in 2008. In the management and coordination of the CJS, most important was the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) which had basically taken over case flow management at the court level, specifically scheduling, postponements and ensuring that trial ready cases were heard. There were 52 backlog courts comprising both regional and district courts and this had made the court role more stable. There had been a significant reduction in remand detainees over the period from 2012 to 2015, with an average annual drop of 5 000. At the beginning of August 2015, for the first time in 15 years, the average had dropped below 40 000 remand detainees. This showed that there had been a continuous focus on reducing remand detainees in the system, and was due to a collaborative effort by all Departments.
Areas of underachievement included the tracking of remand detainees with long outstanding cases, with the focus on the 1 701 detainees who had been in prison for between two and five years. The numbers of sentences of ten years or more had increased and this was a concern, because there would be a higher number of incarcerated offenders in prisons for longer periods. This had led to the need to address rehabilitation and such efforts in a more focussed manner, lest the problem of overcrowding persisted. There had been further integration into the Electronic Case Management System (ECMS) of the NPA, which allowed for electronic charge sheets and included case outcome solutions. The software had been distributed to about 22 courts by the end of March 2015, but a number of challenges had been picked up at the pilot sites.
Members concerns included the continued lack of progress in actually prosecuting cases from beginning to end, using the electronic case management system. They were disturbed that there were 108 children in correctional facilities and questioned the criminal justice system’s ability to cater for mentally ill inmates. There was also concern about the number of remand detainees who had been held in detention for periods exceeding five years. They also raised questions about the implementation of protocols relating to provisions in the Criminal Procedure Act and Correctional Services Act, such as the Section 63A procedure which allowed the head of a correctional centre to apply to court to have bail conditions reconsidered in instances of overcrowding.
Ms Cindy Baile, Secretary to the Committee, said Dr M Motshekga (ANC) was unavailable for the present meeting and therefore the meeting would need to elect an acting Chairperson.
Ms G Breytenbach (DA) nominated Prof C Msimang (IFP).
Mr B Bongo (ANC) nominated Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC).
Prof C Msimang (IFP) said he would not be available to act as Chairperson, but seconded the nomination of Ms Pilane-Majake.
Ms Baile said as there were two nominations it would be put to a vote. She noted a majority in favour of Ms Piane-Majake.
Ms Breytenbach said the meeting should start by apologising to the delegation for keeping them waiting for the length of time they had. This was not the first time that this had happened and the previous week the delegation had had to wait for nearly an hour. It was poor form for the meeting to start so late, with no explanation.
The Chairperson thanked Ms Breytenbach for her input, and for being early at the meeting. She apologised to the delegation for starting late.
Mr Bongo said no problems should arise from this, and added his apologies.
The Chairperson said the two presentations would be pulled together in order to save time.
Briefing by Office of Criminal Justice System Review and Integrated Justice System Board
Adv Pieter du Rand, Chairperson: Office of the Criminal Justice System Review (OCJSR), said there would not be separate presentations and he would deal with most of the elements. The Integrated Justice System (IJS) aspects would be covered by Mr Godfrey Leseba, Chairperson IJS Board.
Adv Du Rand said Cabinet had approved the Seven Point Plan (SPP) to be adopted and implemented in an integrated and holistic manner. It was to be a journey from a fragmented, unfocussed and broken criminal justice system (CJS) to one which was transformed, focused and well managed at every level and that addressed community needs. The purpose and goals of the SPP were to have a modernised and efficient CJS which could deliver quality and professional services, provide swift, equitable and fair justice, and deter crime on a sustainable basis.
The integrated business Plan was currently being finalised for the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) cycle, which was to be completed in December 2014, but had not yet been finalised because the task had been greater than anticipated. What needed to be done was to align the business plan across the various value chain elements in the various departments, looking at an alignment of resources, throughput and budgets. This would lead to a model at the end of the day which allowed National Treasury to determine the resource needs amongst the various players. Various departments were being consulted and the process should be completed by the end of the year.
The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services had indicated in his budget vote speech this year that there were still challenges which required urgent attention to address public confidence in the CJS. Part of this was dealing with the outdated Criminal Procedure Act, reforming bail laws, maximising the use of restorative justice and overcrowding at correctional centres. He had since then indicated that a colloquium would be held by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJCD) by the end of the financial year. This would deal with a range of issues, including the separation of powers and a poverty review. At present, the Minister had indicated that starting the following week he would be going through the various provinces to look at the elements which posed challenges at court and local levels between various role-players, and this would be infused into the work being done
Adv Du Rand then outlined the changes under the Seven Point Plan. The SPP was not something done in isolation, and was part of the work being done in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster, and was also related to the National Development Plan within the MTSF. The SPP was also aligned with seven government outputs, including reducing overall levels of serious crime, addressing corruption, managing and improving perceptions of crime among the population and, most importantly, a more effective CJS.
The OCJSR was comprised of all relevant role players across the full CJS value chain, including the South African Police Service (SAPS), the National Prosecuting Agency, the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), with the latest addition being the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ). One that was excluded, which would be brought in in the future, was the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). The DHA was a new member of the JCPS cluster and its involvement was crucial looking when at biometric elements.
The strategic approach included integration and alignment of CJS processes and systems. The interventions had been approved at the highest level in the JCPS cluster and were part of the medium term strategic and economic frameworks. As indicated earlier, the focus at present was on a model for calculating the balance of resources throughout the CJS, including ensuring that there were enough prosecutors, legal aid representatives and detectives.
Adv Du Rand went on to outline the planned changes and interventions under way under each point of the SPP:
Change 1: Alignment through a single vision and mission for the CJS with congruent objectives, plans, priorities and performance measurement targets:
- A single vision and mission had been developed for the JCPS cluster.
- It was indicated that further buy-in was needed at the highest levels, because changes had taken place with people entering the system who needed to be exposed and know what the review was about.
- Strategic interventions included the integration of data across the entire value chain.
- Under operational interventions, more than 20 high level protocols gave guidelines to departments on what needed to happen in terms of blockage areas. Further, there had been interventions at the front end dealing with forensic capabilities at crime scenes and laboratories.
Change 2: Establish a new and re-aligned CJS coordinating and management structure that flowed in a seamless manner from the Cabinet to the courts in order to improve end-to-end coordination through national and provincial JCPS structures:
- This dealt with the management and coordination of the CJS. Most important was the OCJ, which had basically taken over case flow management at the court level, specifically scheduling, postponements and ensuring trial ready cases were heard. The OCJ had instituted national and provincial efficiency enhancement committees, led by the Judge Presidents. This was an important new development, because these committees were comprise of all relevant role-players, whether it be the Department of Public Works, the NPA or Legal Aid South Africa (LASA). They could therefore deal with the blockages on an urgent basis.
- At the national level, the JCPS interventions included a JCPS Ministerial Committee, a Director General Implementation Forum, and structures such as the IJS board to help align other activities. While at the provincial level, there were Provincial Development Committees and joint committees.
- The DCS now also had a functional Remand Detention Branch at national level, which had been only an idea when the review began in 2008.
Change 3: Practical short and medium term interventions to improve the performance of all courts:
- Judicial standards and norms had been developed by the OCJ and had been gazetted.
- The aim was for courts to focus on trials, while ancillary procedures such as bail and postponements were dealt with by dedicated structures.
- There was now a positive annual clearance ratio in lower courts, and although there had been a decline in backlogs there had been an increase at the regional court level. More importantly, the cases at this level were becoming more complex and taking longer to conclude. Further, there were scheduling problems and there was a blockage at the regional court level at the moment.
- The number of sentences of ten years or more had increased and this was a concern, because there would be a higher number of incarcerated offenders in prisons for longer periods. This had led to the need to address rehabilitation efforts in a more focused manner, lest the problem of overcrowding persisted. However, efforts to ensure the number of remand detainees decreased had worked well.
- On the backlog reduction project, there were 52 backlog courts comprising both regional and district courts, and this had made the court roll more stable. The JCPS cluster had been able to meet the targets for the end of the previous financial year, but as indicated, there had been an increase in the regional courts in the present financial year.
- Other interventions included protocols which had led to increased court efficiency in the areas covered by such protocols. These included the section 63A bail protocol which dealt with correctional centres, where overcrowding had reached such proportions that they were a threat to human dignity. This allowed the head of a centre to make an application to court to release accused on warnings, or to adjust bail conditions. 2 468 applications had been made, with 40% being successful. The section 49G protocol on maximum incarceration of remand detainees had shown a reduction of 13.7% of remand detainees who had been detained for more than two years. A challenge here was the feedback from the courts to the DCS on the applications not being received, but this was receiving attention. The section 49E protocol on referral of terminally ill or severely incapacitated remand detainees had seen some applications, but these were high level applications, where there were really terminally ill or incapacitated remand detainees. The protocol on procedures to be followed when DCS temporarily released remand detainees to SAPS for further investigations and to ensure early arrival in court, had a practical application at the court level. In the past, there had been complaints from the DCS that there was not enough control over these matters, and it had been found that these concerns had been resolved, with remand detainees being dealt with in a more structured way. The protocol on audio/visual remand systems were something which worked well with the systems developed, and was in place in courts. This was being rolled out during the current financial year, and there had been approval from the OCJ.
- The Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act had initially been developed by the OCJSR and was working in practice. Implementation was being aided by memoranda of understanding and further protocols between the relevant departments. This Act was assisting the role players to deal with these matters properly.
- There had been a significant reduction in remand detainees over the period from 2012 to 2015, with an annual average drop of 5 000. At the beginning of August 2015, for the first time in 15 years, the average had dropped below 40 000 remand detainees. This showed that there was a continuous focus on reducing remand detainees in the system, which was due to a collaborative effort by all departments. One of the ways in which this was being done, was that between the DCS, LASA and the NPA, cases were looked at in a prioritised manner. A web tool had been created which allowed it to be seen, on a monthly basis, where the blockages were, and the profiles of the 20 longest-serving remand detainees in the country per province were available. This information was then circulated monthly, not only to the departments, but also to the Judge Presidents, LASA and the NPA. This had seen movement on such detainees who had been detained for long periods of time.
- The tracking of remand detainees with long outstanding cases was in place, with the focus on detainees who had been in prison for between two and five years, of which there were a total of 1 701. These were generally serious matters which were either in the regional or high courts.
- Looking at children in remand detention facilities, efforts had been made to ensure that children were kept in prison only as a last resort. As 30 June 2015, there were 108 remand detained children in DCS facilities countrywide. In August 2015, this figure was approximately 101. Around four years previously, there had been approximately 400 children in remand detention on average annually.
- From the side of SAPS, detective court case monitors had been established in 118 courts. These monitors communicated between prosecutors and detectives, making sure the dockets were dealt with properly and enquiries were monitored. More were sought, but there were budget constraints from the police’s side.
- LASA had been a success and had improved its coverage to regional courts to 99%, and to 88% for district courts. It also implemented the remand detainee web programme and tracked children in the CJS.
Change 4: Component parts with a critical need for intervention
- Areas of weakness included forensic services in SAPS and the Department of Health (DOH), investigation services capacity and training by SAPS, and prosecution and remand detention.
- For forensic services, the focus was on maintaining the work which had already been completed.
- The major challenge was with investigative services and detectives, because there were insufficient numbers and there had been a huge decline in their numbers over the past two years.
- DCS was involved with specific interventions which had seen improved components, particularly the creation of the Remand Detention branch, which allowed closer monitoring of such detainees. Approximately 15% of remand detainees had been given bail but could not afford it and this was an element which needed to be dealt with in other ways.
- The J7 Warrant of Detention had been amended to allow for improved classification and analysis of remand detainees.
Changes 5 & 6: Establish an integrated and seamless national CJS information system and implement a programme of modernisation of the CJS
- A lot of work had been done behind the scenes to make sure systems were developed in the various departments as building blocks for the IJS.
- Part of the IJS Board’s work was to deal with the prioritisation of these matters within the JCPS cluster.
Mr Godfrey Leseba, Chairperson: IJS Board, dealt with the status highlights regarding the IJS:
- The five cluster priorities were the CJS single person identifier, person identification verification application (including criminal record fast check), case management integration, key performance indicator reporting dashboard, and single transversal data store for JCPS cluster statistical requirements.
- The IJS transversal hub was the central infrastructure which allowed information to move from one department to another. Between the transversal hub and each department there was an end-point integration which translated the systems used by each department into information understood by the transversal hub.
- The end-point integration processes were complete for all relevant departments except the OCJ, the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the DCS.
- The achievement highlights included the integration between the SAPS’ Case Administrative System (CAS) and Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, which had been rolled out to 1 153 police stations and 493 of 627 courts. Electronic notifications to LASA had been enabled at 848 police stations and associated justice centres.
- There had been further integration of the NPA into the Electronic Case Management System (ECMS) which allowed for electronic charge sheets and included case outcome solutions. This had been deployed at two courts -- Benoni and Daveyton. The software had been distributed to about 22 courts by the end of March 2015, but a number of challenges had been picked up at the pilot sites. Currently, post-implementation support was under way to gradually operationalise the system as the users became able to implement it.
- The electronic legal aid application was in the user testing phase, and was planned for production in the third quarter of 2015/16.
- The DCS had seen the piloting of the Integrated Inmate Management System (IIMS) at the Johannesburg Correctional Centre and the procurement process was under way for additional enhancement to the solution and further roll out.
- The Department of Social Development was preparing to integrate with SAPS regarding cases with children in conflict with the law, aspects of victim empowerment and the electronic assignment of probation officers.
- The Person Identification Verification Application 1 (PIVA 1) entailed instant verification of South African identification via the Department of Home Affairs, using biometric devices. This had been piloted at two SAPS sites and was now ready for deployment. It was currently being embedded into the business systems.
- The Person Identification Verification Application 2 (PIVA 2) was currently under way, which enabled criminal record checks, a latent search and wanted persons test, using all ten digital fingerprints. This required a full upgrade of the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS). The solution was currently being defined by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), SAPS, DHA and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to define the solution, with the specifications to be completed by December 2015 for the purposes of procurement. PIVA 2 would eventually also be able to provide clearance certificates from the National Register of Sex Offenders.
- The Integrated Booking Stream was a work in process, which was the re-engineering of the SAPS booking process to provide digital capture booths, iris and facial recognition technologies, and live fingerprint scanning. This would all be integrated into a single person object and identifier.
- The person tracking and integration stream would introduce an electronic body receipting process, using a single person identifier to electronically track the movement of persons throughout the value chain, using biometric technologies at service points.
- The business intelligence solution was a state of the art performance dashboard which was used to measure the performance of the CJS. In the previous financial year, IJS had committed to providing nine of the 28 key performance indicators by the end of that year and had achieved 14 of the indicators. Data was being sought from DCS and DSD to enable IJS to populate the rest of the key performance indicators.
- The DCS’s specific aspects of the IJS’s work included implementing the development of the IIMS and carrying out infrastructure enhancements, such as video conferencing and a virtual private network for surveillance and access control. Further, audio/visual equipment had been installed at parole boards to assist with victims getting more involved in the hearings.
Change 7: Partnerships with communities:
- The Community Safety Fora was an element which had had mixed success and had been driven by the Civilian Secretariat for Police. There were such Fora in eight provinces, but in the Free State there had been challenges involving budgets.
- There were 1 132 Community Policing Fora across the country. At present there were two white papers -- one on policing and one on security. These white papers gave more of a regulatory framework for how the fora were to function, and were out for comment at present.
- Community corrections and restorative justice efforts had been established, which would help to deal with victim/offender mediations and reintegration of offenders. Other efforts such as the half-way houses had been established by the DCS.
Adv du Rand said in conclusion that this was a work in progress, and that progress had been substantial over the past two years, particularly in regard to the IJS elements of the plan. Looking at the SPP, the main aim of improving the CJS’s legitimacy and public confidence in the system had not been fully achieved.
Adv Du Rand then dealt with some elements regarding the Office of the Chief Justice and the work being done by some of the other CJS component parts.
The Chief Justice was now the Head of the Judiciary, and was responsible for norms and standards for judicial functions. It was important to have this so that there was uniformity across the various jurisdictions. These had been gazetted, which helped with caseflow management from the national to the regional level, and with the monitoring. At the national level, the Judge Presidents and Chief Justice were very involved in strategy, monitoring and evaluation, while at the provincial and local levels, they were involved with more practical details. Importantly at the provincial level, there were now provincial service centres which had been established by provincial heads. These new centres oversaw and monitored high court elements, both in terms of the court management at registrar level, to ensure there was efficient court administration support to the judiciary.
Elements which were important and standing items for the National Efficiency Enhancement Committees (NEECs) were training initiatives, audio/visual remand systems, case flow management, remand detainees incarcerated for periods longer than two years and the monitoring of statistics regarding the core performance elements. This senior management involvement from the Chief Justice and Judge Presidents was crucial and meant in future some traction would come out of such structures, particularly as there was more engagement with other role-players such as the NPA. The norms and standards also set timelines for pleading, encouraged finalising criminal matters within six months, not reserving judgement without a fixed date for doing so, and judgement had to be handed down within three months of the last hearing. These were specific standards which were not previously there and the monitoring of this had seen results.
Training had been identified as an important element and the various Judge Presidents and Chairperson of the Magistrates Commission had begun to identify judicial officers to aid in training detectives. What was crucial was that the judiciary made visits to correctional centres and other places of detention to inform themselves of conditions. This had begun and if there were challenges they had brought to the attention of the relevant parties.
The heads of court had established a Judicial and Administrative Information Technology Strategy Steering Committee, which dealt with information and communications technology solutions from the side of the judiciary. The steering committee allowed a close interaction with the IJS and ensured that elements which were created for the OCJ were linked with the IJS Board’s rationalisation.
On forensics, which dealt with matters ranging from crime scene optimisation, criminal record centres and forensic laboratories, there had been a drastic decrease in backlogs since the CJS review began in 2008 -- from 59 023, to 7 506. This demonstrated the good work done by the front end. Previous conviction reports could now be generated within 15 calendar days. The target had been 94%, but achievement was at 98%. The forensic services staff levels had grown from 6 098 in 2010 to more than 7 489 in 2015.
Turning to the National Department of Health, it had been realised that there was a big backlog regarding this aspect of forensics, but blood alcohol analysis backlogs were decreasing. The backlog for post-mortem unprocessed drunk driving alcohol blood samples had decreased from 6 918, to 3 904 in July 2015, while pre-mortem unprocessed drunk driving alcohol blood samples had decreased form 54 129 in February 2015, to 39 433 in July 2015. In general, there had been a continuous decrease in the backlogs at the DOH. The staff establishment had increased from in 29 staff at the Pretoria laboratory in 2009, to 54 in July 2015, and there had been a new laboratory established in KwaZulu-Natal with a staff of 21 persons.
Turning to DCS statistics, remand detention had dropped from 47 000 in 2010, to 41 000, while the sentenced offenders with longer sentences were increasing. There had been 54 000 who were serving ten years or longer in 2010, but it was now 58 172. This was a trend among inmates with longer sentences and therefore more efforts needed to be put into rehabilitation.
Adv Du Rand said the successful interventions had included improving crime scene fingerprinting and forensic services, criminal history was now readily available and the court backlogs had been reduced in many areas. More protocols had been signed off, the remand detainees’ situation had been dealt with, and blood alcohol testing backlogs had been significantly reduced. Matters still needing attention included business intelligence, with good work being done with the key performance indicators, as well as cross-cutting component parts, such as mapping out the personnel and cost requirements across the value chains.
In conclusion, a lot of money had been put in to this programme, running into the billions, but this had not been spread throughout the whole value chain and was concentrated at the front end services, such as forensics and the IJS system developments. These aspects were costly, and the rest of the elements which were being handled, were being funded by the normal baseline budgets and by improving efficiency. The first audit of the efforts had been concluded at the end of the previous financial year and there had been no major issues.
Ms Breytenbach prefaced her statement by saying what she would be asking would probably sound like criticism, but no one understood better than she did what the problems were with the system. The SPP had been underway for seven years, and frankly there did not appear to be a huge amount of progress for such a lengthy period of time. With all these boards, steering committees and acronyms, who was actually doing the work, because all that had been seen in the presentation was people being involved with planning? It had been mentioned that several of the CJS SPP interventions had been implemented successfully -- could these be listed and the achievements pointed out? It had been mentioned several times that work was being done towards increasing public confidence in the CJS, but she was sure that all were aware that the public had no confidence in the criminal justice system and recent developments in the CJS had not done anything to help. Change 2 was a more effective criminal justice system, and frankly this was not working, because the CJS was not effective.
While the figures put together looked impressive, in her experience and through speaking with ordinary people, the indications were that the CJS was dysfunctional. The interventions by the OCJ were a positive development, but it should not be the job of the judiciary to fix the problems with the CJS, and the fact that they were doing so showed just how poorly the criminal justice system was in fact performing.
A statistic of children incarcerated in prison had been presented as being only 108, but that was 108 too many. Incarceration was not the place for children. Why could it not be better? Surely there was a better place and in 2015 -- 21 years in a constitutional democracy -- she found it difficult to believe that no better solution could be found. Similarly, why were mentally ill people being kept in prison, because this was unacceptable? It was no good to state that there were resource constraints, but the CJS had to do better. It was unconstitutional and inhumane to imprison mentally ill people. She was given to understand that in Kimberly, all mentally ill patients were kept in prison, as the West End facility could accommodate seven or eight people. Some of these mentally ill patients had been incarcerated for ten years, effectively serving a sentence.
Improving the technology in prisons had been referred to, but how far was the electronic tracking system and why had it not been implemented? It had been said that the electronic case management had been rolled out, but could it be indicated at which courts this had been done, how many dockets had been loaded on to the system successfully and how many cases had successfully been prosecuted from beginning to end, using the system? She had serious misgivings about such a system, because capable people were required at all points and she was not convinced that this was in place. Further, she was sure she did not need to point out the difficulties and dangers if that system was not managed properly. She was startled that judges were training police on how to take affidavits and she wanted to know whether these were sitting judges, and when they did such training. She felt judges ought to be occupied with more important matters than training the police -- surely this was the police’s job. She understood that the NPA had been doing so for years, but this was not acceptable and would be even less so if judges were involved.
Ms M Mothapo (ANC) on the NEEC which was led by the OCJ, asked for clarity on the mandate, composition and functions of the national operations committee. She asked for an update on progress with the electronic transmission of dockets, and any problems encountered. What was the approach of the DCS on restorative justice? She wanted more elaboration on the application of the Child Justice Act, which allowed children to be taken to prison only as a last resort, as it had been said that there were 108 children in correctional facilities. Were there not better places for such children? She also asked for elaboration on the departmental integration processes. On the implementation of protocols, she asked how often heads of correctional facilities made use of the protocol regarding section 63A of the Criminal Procedure Act to address the issue of overcrowding. When last the Committee had visited Matatshe Correctional Centre, there had been heavy overcrowding.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) said Ms Breytenbach had largely covered his points, but he felt it was not all gloom and doom, with a lot of positives coming out of the presentation. If people were being detained for more than five years without trial, surely this was detention without process of law, which was unfair, and he was sure this would lead to litigation in the future. He wanted to know if there was a central place where Departments were able to access information and if so, what provisions were in place to protect this information from hackers and from systems crashing. He had heard that audio/visual systems had been installed at all parole boards. Was this true, or was it simply “icing the cake?” On the issue of language used in the CJS, he had a problem with people being taken to court on statements taken in a language which they did not speak, or by a person who did not speak the language in which they were taking a statement. Were African languages being used to take the statements and if so, were the people interpreting these statements qualified to know exactly what was being said. How did this problem fit into the SPP, and how far had the JCPS cluster gone towards improving this concern?
Mr J Selfe (DA) referred to the issue of remand detainees. On 18 May 2015, there had been 1 701 remand detainees who had been incarcerated for more than two years. He remembered a law being passed which had made it illegal to incarcerate remand detainees for more than two years, and he assumed that it had not yet been put into effect, as there did not seem to be a vast improvement. This was particularly the case with the remand detainees who had been detained for more than five years, and it was shocking that there were 167 people who had been in prison for five years awaiting trial. It had been said that steps had been taken to improve communication and remove blockages, but the Committee needed to be told what these blockages were, as unless these were solved, it would be impossible to implement the law which Parliament had passed. Historically, he remembered one of the concerns being remand detainees having different types of charges, with some charges at different courts. He wondered how far the JCPS cluster had come towards a single, consolidated charge sheet which could be dealt with by a single court.
The more fundamental question was that, with the objective of the SPP being to improve the efficiency of the CJS, this would lead to improved rates of conviction and detention, but what he had missed in the presentation was the attention which should be given to proper reintegration and rehabilitation. The Committee had criticised the DCS over a long period for under-funding and under-emphasising the importance of rehabilitation and reintegration. From the DOJCD’s side there, must also be a willingness to engage robustly with alternative sentences, restorative justice and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in order to filter out the cases of first time, non-violent and young offenders to ensure they did not enter the system, because “the way to drive up re-offending was by sending someone to prison in the first place”.
Prof C Msimang (IFP) said he welcomed what was happening in the cluster, with the departments driving towards some form of uniformity. However, the report had gone on to say that there was still a need to foster buy-in -- what was holding up this buy-in? Specifically, were there challenges or did they simply require more time? On modernisation, the report was very positive and it seems the cluster was winning that war. However, there was a balancing act between modernisation and what happened on the ground. For example, if the rate at which inmates were released on parole or bail was speeded up, then there was a risk that the rehabilitation efforts had not been sufficient, leading to a repetition of offences. Was the state winning with this balancing act, as communities felt that inmates were being released to further victimise and commit crime?
On the system for releasing people who we terminally ill, the community was not too sure what criteria were used, because it was found that some people were released only to live a normal life on the outside. He was concerned about the statement in the presentation which indicated that in June 2015, three remand detainees had applied to be released on the grounds of terminal illness and it had come to light that one had died before a response had been given, and another had died after being denied. Was the system efficient enough, and could there not be some improvements? Finally, as was pointed out by Ms Breytenbach, there were judges assisting police with drafting affidavits and the question then was whether the standard of training for the police was good enough and if they were sufficiently capacitated for the job they had to carry out.
Mr W Horn (DA) asked about section 63A of the Criminal Procedure Act, because elsewhere in the report it had been indicated that15 to 20% of remand detainees were given the option of bail. As there were 43 000 remand detainees, 10% translates into 4 300, yet only 2 468 applications had been made. This indicated a discrepancy, and he asked for comment in this regard. It had been reported that there had been an overall reduction in remand detainees, but the fact was that there was an increase in the number of remand detainees in five of the nine provinces, including the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The question must be asked whether there were problems in some provinces, and why the measures put in place had borne fruit in only four provinces.
On the long-outstanding cases, Mr Selfe had mentioned the issue of blockages. He questioned whether any remand detainees were being detained due to problems with forensic investigations, considering the problems persisting at the forensic laboratories, despite the advances made.
On the training of detectives, which touched on the issue of separation of powers, another aspect was that the NEEC had also decided to visit correctional centres. The fact of the matter was that in South Africa, there was a formal institution led by a judge which carried out this function in the form of the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services. He asked whether this had been pre-arranged with the Inspecting Judge, and how it had been managed, because there might have been an overreach. Lastly, on the CAS and ICMS integrations, it had been mentioned that 135 courts were targeted for rollout in the second quarter of the present financial year, and he asked for feedback as to whether that indeed had taken place.
The Chairperson said it looked as though the work had started, but based on Members’ comments the work had a long way to go. To some extent, the Committee should have had an idea of how this was being capacitated, because the internal audit reports of all relevant Departments could be utilised to look at capacity issues. At times planning could continue, but things did not happen because the implementation had not been complemented with capacity.
On ICT, IJS and the case management system, the companies being appointed to do IT work needed to be looked at and asked whether they were in a position to provide an adequate service. The systems had been spoken of for a long time, but there was no sense of matters coming together. At some point, the stage needed to be reached where it could be said that there was a good IT system in place. Also, some of the IT systems had existed in the past, but no references had been made to their continued existence, or what had happened to them, because at present every time the Committee met it seemed as though the intention was to build a new system, rather than augmenting what was already there.
She was unsure whether the national registers managed by the DOJCD and DSD were being combined into one register. On the PIVA, an idea should be given as to whether there were linkages with other Southern African Development Community countries, because South Africa had to fight crime in the context of holding many people from neighbouring countries.
Returning to risk management and internal audits, there seemed to be tension between the arms of state. How could this be worked on and how could an early warning system be put in place to identify potential conflicts?
Adv Du Rand said the way in which the work had been received was appreciated, because it was a long process which had taken some time and would take more time before it could be said that the goals had been achieved. While the SPP had begun in 2008, it at times felt as though it had only just started.
On the issue of there being a number of boards and acronyms, there was a secretariat of people who were seconded on an ad hoc basis to strategise and look at possible solutions. These persons did not sit on a permanent basis, and came in as experts to deal with particular matters. The boards which had been created dealt with matters such as alignment. The IJS Board, for example, had a range of people who came into that office from various departments to oversee the alignment. The actual work was conducted at an operational level, and therefore it was not as if there were many permanent boards with no one left to do the work. The NEEC, and entities like it, were meetings of relevant role-players which looked at the challenges and possible solutions. At one of the NEEC meetings, the issue of the training of detectives had come to the fore and an offer had been made to look at this from the judicial angle. Therefore, there was nothing sinister -- it was simply a blockage identified, which could be resolved with the aid of retired judges. This augmented the work being done by the SAPS and therefore there was no breach of the separation of powers.
He agreed that public confidence was a challenge and had to be worked on. As the system improved, there would be more confidence, but this was a work in progress and it was understood that there were challenges. The presentation had started off with an indication that the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services had acknowledged in his budget vote speech that there were challenges. There was therefore going to be a colloquium and visits to the provinces to see these challenges and identify what could be done to improve public confidence.
Mr Nathi Mncube, Chief Director: Court Administration, Office of the Chief Justice, referred to the assistance being given by judges and magistrates to SAPS, and said that it was only in the Western Cape that this had occurred so far, and had taken the form of judicial officers appearing as guest lecturers to provide guidance. There was a need for the judges to become involved, because the Supreme Courts Act reaffirmed the position of the Chief Justice as the head of the both the high and lower courts. It further empowered the Chief Justice to provide guidance in matters which related to the efficiency, effectiveness and functioning of courts. The whole exercise would have come about through people having identified the blockages referred to, and the Chief Justice indicating that such guidance should be provided to enhance the effectiveness of the courts.
When the Chief Justice had established the NEEC, the National Operations Committee was established to draft the terms of reference for the NEEC. A decision was later made to retain the forum, and its mandate was that of a subcommittee of the NEEC, which monitored the provincial committees and forwarded strategic issues which the NEEC ought to consider. It was chaired by a judge from the Western Cape, but the members were from the DOJCD, magistrates’ courts, LASA and other stakeholders. It met as and when it needed to, while the NEEC met only twice a year.
Adv Du Rand said it was agreed that the 108 children in correctional centres was 108 too many, and this was why there was a specific focus on each child by LASA, which represented most of them. In South Africa at present, under the Child Justice Act, there was a system through which children were assessed and if they did not pose a danger to themselves or others they could be placed in places of secure care. These 108 were the real violent cases and gave problems which could not be dealt with at a lower level. What was to be done when the court assessed that secure care would not be sufficient? This was a discretion available to the judiciary, and was something which could be questioned when the Committee came into contact with the judiciary. From a system perspective, the OCJSR was trying to ensure this did not happen.
Regarding the mentally ill, this was a real challenge in that there were not enough psychiatric hospitals or skilled people to deal with such persons. Certain provinces, such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, did not have any mental health hospitals at all. The question had been posed to the DOH, requesting their bed space to be increased, because this was not where mentally ill people belonged. This was also something which the Committee needed to engage DOH on, and the DCS should be able to provide the required numbers. It was a standing item for the OCJSR to check the status -- what could be done and how best to engage DOH. The courts could make orders that required mentally ill people to be placed in correctional centres, so the incarceration was not illegal. The challenge, however, was that some mentally ill inmates were kept in correctional centres for years. Unfortunately, the DOH was not part of the cluster and if hospitals were built, there was no real way to influence this decision. Another problem was that there was no central system, to enable the transfer of people from other provinces. It was left to the provincial departments to handle this, and provinces would look to cater for their own inmates before looking outward.
Mr Leseba said there had been a question regarding the electronic monitoring system for inmates, and to his knowledge this project had been piloted. He was unsure whether it had gone any further, but the DCS would elaborate further. On the electronic case management system, and how many cases had been taken through from beginning to end, he did not have the figures at present. The first phase had been an offline stand-alone solution, used in the NPA.
Ms Breytenbach interrupted and asked how an electronic case management system could be built offline.
Mr Leseba said the first step in building technology solutions was to create an application that would be used to integrate with the other Departments. The application was standalone, not offline, and used primarily in the NPA, so that when the application was at an integration level the transmission of docket information would be transferred from SAPS to the NPA, to generate an electronic charge sheets. The project had been deployed to two courts, Benoni and Daveyton, and a number of cases have been going through that system. The number of cases was not available to him at the meeting, but this pilot phase was run for only a limited period. On whether there was a central system and the measures in place to ensure the safety of the information, he said there was a central infrastructure which allowed the transmission of information from one department to another. For the purposes of integration, the only information was that which departments were willing to sign off and share for the purposes of measuring the performance of the CJS. Each department had retained its business applications which they had always used to run their operations. What would happen was that the docket would be sent from the police to the NPA via the central system, but it would not be stored there. What was stored in the IJS transversal was the fact that the information had been moved, so that all the events could be linked and performance data could be gathered. The fundamental security remained at departmental level, but there were also industry level standards for security in the build of the application. It was not a central infrastructure which was sitting on its own, but rather it was located at the data centre used by SAPS’ production systems in Pretoria. Therefore, the physical security used to protect SAPS systems applied to the IJS transversal hub. From a security point of view there are no challenges and in the next financial year the IJS was looking to develop a disaster recovery system.
On the single person identifier and linkages with the SADC region, he said the single person identifier for the IJS’s purposes was more of a unique key to be created for people entering the CJS. At the point of arrest, as much information as possible would be collected on the individual, so that if they come into contact with the CJS again, then everything that was known about that person could easily be accessed. Certain biometrics were being used to verify people’s identities, which were captured by the DHA. Fingerprints were being used to identify people who were not known. At the moment, the national information register and DHA’s data was being relied upon. In the future, IJS intends to make use of information on all travellers into South Africa, which was broader than just SADC, and included asylum seekers.
Ms Vuyelwa Mlomo-Ndlovu, Deputy Commissioner: Remand Operations Management Remand Detention Branch, DCS, said section 49G stated that remand detainees should not spend a period of more than two years, without being referred to court to consider the length of their period of detention. However, it did not state that people should not be detained for more than two years. Rather, it stated that if the court decided that a person must be sent to detention, subsequent applications were to be sent on an annual basis. The general public also had concerns in this regard, and this had been explained through a frequently asked questions project.
On section 49 E, which dealt with remand detainees who were terminally ill or physically capacitated, the inmate must first be seen by a doctor, who must complete a report in a prescribed format. Once it was confirmed that the person was terminally ill and that the centre was not in a position to treat the person, only then could the DCS submit an application to court. However, before this application was submitted, the DCS must check that the community in which the person would be released had the support services required, and pleaded in the court application. The DCS must also be clear that it was not in a position to treat the person in its hospitals. Where people had died during the process of submitting the application, it was because of the time it took to collate all the required information.
Mr Mpumlwana asked for clarification, because there was a doctor at each centre and it therefore could not be said that the DCS had to wait to consult a doctor. How long did the entire process take? He encouraged openness about weaknesses in the system, and if people were doing their jobs badly.
Ms Mlomo-Ndlovu said section 49E was a new provision, because previously there had been no provision which catered for terminally ill remand detainees. Remand detainees were a very fluid population, and at times they would go to court and not return. Therefore, where a person was too ill to go to court, an application would then be made. It also had to be considered that some remand detainees were already incapacitated when referred to the DCS. At times, doctors ordered many tests and therapies to be undertaken while the person was in detention, before the report required for the application was produced.
On section 63A, while it appeared that the number of people who were eligible for bail far exceeded the number of applications, not everyone who had the option for bail qualified. First one must be charged with a schedule 7 crime in a lower court, and in some instances inmates had multiple charges against them, some which did not allow bail or were not schedule 7. Further, at some centres there was no overcrowding, and therefore section 63A was not available. In such circumstances, the appropriate provision was section 63 (1), which allowed an application for bail review at the instance of the detainee or prosecutor. If they did not ask for the application to be made, there was nothing which the DCS could do.
On the judges visiting correctional centres, there was provision made in section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Act for access to correctional centres by judges and magistrates. They were allowed to visit any part of the centre, and even interview inmates. This should not conflict with the role of the inspecting judge, because the provision was clear on the extent of their powers. This also assisted with the application of provisions such as section 63A, which required the judicial officer to acquaint himself with the conditions of detention.
On the training on protocols, these may be a provision which came from the Criminal Procedure Act, the Correctional Services Act or from a complaint received, such as the late arrival of remand detainees at court. The heads of the centres and staff participated in the drafting of the protocols, and when they were signed off, training was conducted in all the regions. A reporting tool was also produced with the protocols, and DCS officials were trained on what needed to be taken into account for reporting. All the protocols developed thus far fell under the DCS, because they were the initiators of the applications regarding remand detainees.
The DCS had 53 parole boards and the audio/visual system had been installed in 52 centres, because at Leeuwkop there were two centres. Although they had been installed, they were not operational at present, because the network bandwidth needed to be upgraded.
Ms Vuyelwa Mlomo-Ndlovu, Deputy Commissioner Remand Operations Management, DCS, said electronic monitoring had begun to be rolled out on 1 July 2015, and there are 714 people under the system, four of which were remand detainees. This continued to be marketed at various courts in all the regions. The DCS had been invited to fully present on the advantages and challenges of electronic monitoring before the Committee on 16 September 2015.
On the victim offender dialogues, the DCS had strengthened its participation in the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) fora led by the DSD. This was because when victims were being traced, it was realised that not all of them had been attended to while the offender had been incarcerated. When they had been invited to make representations at the parole boards, it had been realised that they had never been engaged. Therefore, the DCS sought to strengthen its relationship with CPX and the Victim Empowerment Forum. Due to a lack of human capacity in both the DCS and DSD, they had advertised for 63 social auxiliary workers who would focus solely on the victims, to ensure they were prepared and were being dealt with properly regarding restorative justice.
A relationship was enjoyed with traditional leaders, particularly in rural areas, because when offenders were to be released in such areas the DCS engaged with them, who in turn organises imbizos. In working with victims, it had been realised that because of the trauma they had experienced, they tended to want to make use of private victim offender dialogues. These sessions involved psychologists, social workers and chaplains who worked with both the families and the direct victims. The DCS’s office of community corrections had invited the families of the parolees and probationers to encourage their support, and to emphasise compliance with the conditions of these people. Through such engagements, it had been found that the families had also experienced scarring and therefore dialogue and mediation needed to occur at this level. This was the position with restorative justice at present, and the number of targets which were set in DCS’s strategic documents was increasing, with the target of 1 500 sessions having already been achieved.
Mr Lucky Mthethwa, Director: Corrections Administration, DCS, on alternative sentences, said that the DCS could confirm that operationally the multi-pronged strategy was being implemented. Eight of the elements were under the control of the DCS. One of these elements was the implementation of alternative sentences. The first was the managing of remand detainees, using the Criminal Procedure Act, and secondly, the managing of sentenced offenders using alternative sentencing and capital works.
Adv Bradley Smith, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, NPA, said the electronic transmission of dockets must be understood on several levels. The first one SAPS had attempted to implement was the scan solution, which essentially meant having a handwritten affidavit which was scanned and sent to the NPA. The NPA had indicated that this was not suitable, because scanned documents were large files which the e-mail servers could not handle. SAPS was working towards having an electronic affidavit which was a typed document, with an electronic signature. The NPA at this point was not ready to receive the scanned solution, or any other solution proposed up until this point. This did not mean that SAPS should stop the development, but rather that they should proceed and modernise.
On cases successfully prosecuted through the ECMS, the NPA got only the accuseds’ particulars, address and charges preferred against them. This was then used to populate a J15, which was the first document used in a court case. This was then sent to the DOJCD, where the clerk of the court would capture the case outcome every day, and this information then came back to the NPA. Together with this, there were the electronic charge sheets, which had about 4 000 offences which prosecutors could utilise as a pro forma document. This was a building process, and ultimately everything should be digital, with no physical documents being passed around, but this was a journey.
On the issue of languages used in court, he said the concern was that people were being convicted on the basis of poorly taken affidavits. What happened was that there was a court process, with evidence led, and a sworn court interpreter who would translate the verbal evidence into the language which the accused understood. This was one of the safeguards, because it could not be expected that every police officer would know all 11 official languages and a host of foreign languages. The court process was the checking mechanism, and if there was a foreign person the court had to ensure that there was an interpreter for that person. Therefore the CJS had made sure that it was not on the basis of the weakest link -- the police written affidavit -- that a person was convicted.
On the centralisation of charge sheets, the Criminal Procedure Act permitted the centralisation of cases, but the complication was that the accused were often not alone in a case. There were certain requirements which had to be met for centralisation, and where these were met it was done.
On the concern that the criminal justice system was not paying enough attention to rehabilitation and restorative justice, there were elements which demonstrated growth in this regard. When a crime was committed, the first process was often admission of guilt, which SAPS or the NPA could set for an accused. There was also section 57A of the Criminal Procedure Act, which allowed an admission of guilt to be set even for someone who had appeared in court, and this had shown a growth of 63.8%. In 2008/2009 there had been 38 048 section 57A admissions of guilt, which had grown to 62 321 in the previous financial year. Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (ADRM) and diversion programmes had increased from 81 000 to 184 000. As the DCS had grown regarding sentenced inmates, the system had been getting people who had committed lesser crimes out.
On people who were declared state patients and the Northern Cape, which had a problem in this regard, there had been a recent decision in the Constitutional Court where it had been found that certain provisions in the Act were unconstitutional. Parliament would soon receive legislation which would permit the court to make an order to release the offender into the care of another person, instead of sending the accused to correctional services. Therefore, some of the Committee’s concerns were shared by the Constitutional Court.
Adv Du Rand referred to the long-outstanding cases where there were still forensic investigations to be completed. If the ones which had been ongoing for more than two years out of the total, the remands done for further investigation were about 1% and therefore the trial process had already begun. The majority of the remand matters were partly heard, while 5% of the postponements were for judgment, 3% due to outstanding warrants for co-accused, and the unavailability of court stakeholders accounted for about 4%. The partly heard matters were being prioritised to be dealt with as speedily as possible.
On the elements of rehabilitation not being dealt with thoroughly in the presentation, he said it had been included in the presentation but was not a focal point.
It was being taken to heart that there was a need to look into the audit outcomes for various departments to look at capacity shortages. This was part of the model of looking at what capacity was required for the various departments, and this was why it was taking time.
Regarding the national registers, there were no problems and these were being dealt with by DOJCD and DSD. Linking up with other SADC countries was a challenge at this point in time, because at this point the efforts were towards linking with other departments in the cluster, and linking with other countries was the next step.
On risk management and tension between the arms of state, he had indicated that the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services was planning on holding a colloquium, and part of this would deal with the separation of functions. What the OCJSR wanted to indicate was that a lot of work was being done, but this was not something where there would be a solution overnight. The development of each Department’s systems involved huge building blocks which needed to be put in place, and this took time. There had been challenges with issues, like dealing with SITA, and this had affected the length of time taken. The presentation was intended to show the commitment to creating a more efficient system.
Ms Breytenbach said from the answers which she had received, she understood that no cases had been run through the ECMS from start to finish after all this time, which was somewhat disappointing. On the statistics provided regarding the forensic laboratories’ backlogs, she asked for an explanation of what was being shown by these statistics and how long people were waiting between the time they were arrested and when they were tried, based on the results.
In the presentation it had been indicated that 125 cases had been withdrawn where people had been unable to afford bail. How did this happen and why had these people been prosecuted? Mention had been made that there was something called the electronic legal aid application, and that user testing was in progress and production was planned for the third quarter. Where was this being tested, and how successful had the testing been?
The presentation had indicated that “person architecture framework and designs have been drafted to pave the way for creation of unique person identifier and integrated booking”. She commented that it was endemic in the presentation, and she understood the difficulty in drafting such a presentation, but what was the above sentence saying? Reference had also been made to the Community Policing Fora and how they were engaged in resolving challenges. However, she had recently heard that the Premier of Gauteng had disbanded the community protection services. She asked whether any information was available, as she would imagine that Gauteng was one of the provinces most in need of such fora.
Mr Bongo said in the end, the society which was wanted was one that embraced all the languages. Proceedings were still conducted in languages such as Afrikaans. Matters needed to proceed to the point where such proceedings were also conducted in indigenous African languages, because this would mean representation for the majority of the people in the country. He would like to see a roadmap towards having litigation conducted in peoples’ own languages.
Ms Mothapo said, on the issue of the inter-departmental integration process, it appeared to her that fingerprint identification would be applicable only to people who were in the country legally, as they would have been captured by the Department of Home Affairs. The presentation had also referred to interactions with traditional leaders, and could there be an elaboration of these efforts. Lastly, which aspects of the Seven Point Plan would result in “quick win” situations?
The Chairperson asked for information on the participation of probation officers to avoid having children in custody. On mob control and mob justice, the strategy did not make any reference as to how these matters were dealt with, specifically regarding arrests and prosecution. A strategy needed to be created, as such occurrences helped to create anarchy, because people knew that there would be no retribution if offences occurred as part of a mob.
Parliament’s research unit’s document on the CJS review had identified inadequacies in tender processes between departments and SITA, with inadequate subject matter experts and inadequate service level agreements with SITA a major cause of delays in modernisation. Therefore, what role did SITA play in the CJS review, because the presentation did not speak to the interactions with SITA or the calibre of service providers being contracted? The presentation, although mentioning children, had stated little about the protection of women, particularly regarding compliance with international instruments and compliance with domestic legislation. There were facilities such as Thuthuzela Care Centres which had not been mentioned, nor was it indicated how women who were traumatised were handled. Had such issues been thought of? How would cases of this nature be dealt with at the entry points, so that the system did not perpetuate the trauma experienced?
A Department of Health spokesperson said the question was how the approximately 43 000 blood alcohol cases translated in terms of processing. There were 39 933 pre-mortem blood alcohol samples outstanding, and 3 964 post-mortem samples. The processing time at present was 7 000 samples per month on average, with an inflow of 5 900 on average. The processing time was 5.5 months, and was set to drop to four months if the present rate continued. There was also a special arrangement with SAPS whereby any sample could be prioritised, which worked reasonably well.
Adv Brian Nair, National Operations Executive, LASA, on the work being done together with DCS on remand detainees, said the majority of cases being tracked were in the trial and partly heard stages. There was 1% which was in the further investigation stage. LASA also tracked the legal representation of all the remand detainees who had been in custody for more than two years. The majority were with LASA, with 32% done directly by its practitioners, while 33% were with judicare practitioners and the rest with private practitioners. In trying to study the reasons for these delays, in many cases there were multiple co-accused. This created the problem that either the accused or their representatives were not always available at the same times for the trial to proceed. LASA did track the reasons the cases were being postponed after each hearing.
On the electronic legal aid application process, at the user testing stage it had continually failed, to the stage where LASA had terminated the contract with the service provider. IJS had been informed of this and it was unfortunate that the translation of the specifications into the coding had not been successful. LASA was considering its options on how to take the process forward.
Mr Leseba said the architecture design being referred to, which was been said to have been completed, was the architecture which informed how the systems in the SAPS should be talking to each other, so that they could also talk to other systems in the value chain. SAPS had many systems which to date remained isolated, and many dealt with persons in some way. For a proper person tracking solution throughout the system, the fingerprinting system needed to be linked to the case administration system and things like the criminal history applications. There needed to be a proper framework to provide the background and a full architecture needed to be developed for the system to work properly. The unique person identifier would be the equivalent of a criminal identification, which would link to all the information available on that person through biometrics. This would aid the NPA in opposing bail, because it was very difficult to collect all this information within 48 hours. Once that system architecture was complete, then all the systems would be able to speak to each other and this would be linked to a unique person identifier which was transferable between departments.
On the role of SITA and the service providers being appointed, he said the role of SITA was legislatively mandated and all departments had to utilise SITA for certain mandatory services. Some services were not mandatory and where there was an option to not make use of SITA, this route was always followed. Procurement and the appointment of service providers were such mandatory services.
The Chairperson clarified her question, saying that she had wanted to know at which point SITA entered the picture and whether the challenges she mentioned had been, or would be, overcome.
Mr Leseba said the IJS board had found creative ways to work around the challenges. For example, the procurement processes took time, and by their nature they were lengthy. The IJS had therefore merged procurement plans, so that now specific things which were going to be bought by all departments were identified and one procurement process was embarked on. Some of the challenges were fundamental to the system -- for example, with the DOJCD some sites were on the SITA network while others were on the Telkom network. There was no movement either to have all sites on the Telkom network and the same performance could not be expected from all sites.
The Chairperson said the response could stop there, because the report she was referring to had also identified inadequacies with the IJS board. It was important to build capacity around all these areas, so that the problems could be resolved.
Adv Du Rand said the report to which the Chairperson was referring had not been received by the OCJSR until the present meeting. They had noted it and it would be studied for integration into the way forward.
On the community policing fora, there were challenges and this was why the civilian secretariat had been assisted with drafting the white papers on policing and on safety and security. Serious challenges existed, such as there being no regulatory framework and it being left up to the municipality whether they wanted to buy in. He was unaware of what was occurring in Gauteng, but the civilian secretariat and SAPS national commissioner were being engaged in this regard. More information would be provided as it ariose, but at this point community policing forums were a challenge.
On the language issues raised, it was important for the constitutional obligations to be taken on board. This had been raised during the budgeting process for the DOJCD in Parliament, and it had been indicated that it was looking into having courts which operated in indigenous languages. There were challenges, because things like having to translate court documents for appeal purposes arose. There had been positive progress, with the DOJCD looking at moving away from courts which operated only in Afrikaans or English.
On the “quick wins” in the Seven Point Plan, this was mainly around how the departments interacted with each other, such as how cases were managed between role-players, including how cases were scheduled so that all the challenges were identified and could be taken to trial when they were ready. Another area of quick wins were the protocols, as they ensured that the people involved understood what they needed to do, what other departments had to do, and there was agreement on this, so that there were not unnecessary blockages.
On the elements relating to mob justice, within the cluster, how the might of the state could be asserted was being interrogated, so that no one felt the need to take the law in their own hands. When such occurrences did arise, they were priority matters which needed to be dealt with speedily to send out the message that there were consequences for mob justice. A lot of the problem had to do with communication, and there was a need for people to be informed about how the CJS dealt with matters such as bail. People needed to understand that accused persons were presumed to be innocent until proven guilty and had a right to be released if it was in the interests of justice and society. This was why community forums such as the community policing structures were so important, and this was contained in the white paper.
The protection of women had not been dealt with directly in the presentation, but the CJS prioritised cases dealing with women and children. For example, with forensic laboratories, cases with female victims were prioritised. There were not many processes in terms of the seven point plan which dealt directly with women, but what had been indicated had been taken to heart and would inform future discussions. There were things such as the Thuthuzela Care Centres, which were built into the system to prevent secondary traumatisation, and many of these matters were handled by the sexual offences units in SAPS and vulnerable groups units in the DOJCD.
Ms Mlomo-Ndlovu, referring to children who were in custody, said that DCS had developed a departmental framework on the implementation of the Child Justice Act. The Child Justice Act and national policy framework had been integrated to indicate the responsibilities of the DCS. Therefore, some of its responsibilities were not contained in the Child Justice Act court processes, but this had been summarised into a 20-page framework. Having reduced the numbers of children in correctional centres, the problem of having only one child in custody arose. The DCS had therefore begun negotiations with the judiciary, because it was difficult to detain only one child, because ordinary inmates could not be mixed with children. If the children were remand detainees, then it was fortunate that the court periods were only 14 days. However, if the court period was more than 14 days the child would be referred back to court to have the warrant corrected. It had been agreed that DCS could submit applications to courts, to consider placing them in a secure care facility. She was unsure whether all magistrates would accept this, because there were clear conditions in section 31 in the Child Justice Act which the presiding officers had to consider before placing a child in prison. If it worked, it would be a great help with managing children in prison.
Adv Du Rand said there had been a question relating to the withdrawal of cases where people could not afford bail. He did not know why the cases had been withdrawn, but the cases were being monitored as remand detainees were involved. The statistics simply showed that so many had received reduced bail, some had been released on a warning and some had been withdrawn. He assumed the prosecutors had withdrawn the cases to avoid a drawn out bail process.
Mr Leseba, referring to the data retained by the DHA and whether people were in the country legally, said the people being referred to were those who were coming in through formal borders, where their biometric data was captured. This was the only point where it was possible to interact with people coming into the country and allowed for the capturing of their biometric data. Data for people who entered illegally could not be captured. However, IJS was also looking at taking the details of deportees to broaden the scope
Mr Mpumlwana said he was unsure whether it was understood that the impetus for the question regarding language was that this was the matter of transformation. The DOJCD’s response had been that the matter was being looked into, but was it being said that African languages would be used in courts, and if so when? He wanted to highlight the position of people who were charged in a language they did not understand and then had to face an alien system of justice. That was why transformation was important, so that when justice was spoken of it really meant justice for all. He wanted to know what the programme towards achieving this was.
The Chairperson said she was aware of a magistrate’s court where all parties involved were able to use an African language, yet they all spoke English. There had even been an interpreter who was translating from Sepedi into English.
Adv Du Rand said there was complete understanding of the transformative element and there was a plan in place to look at creating such courts. However, there were challenges. Where the matter went on appeal or review, the documents would have to be translated. There had been a pilot phase, and it was being tested, and the DOJCD would continue to work on the matter. However, this was something which the DOJCD was handling more broadly, and did not speak to the SPP specifically. The DOJCD was in full agreement with the transformative aspects at play.
Mr Mpumlwana said he would be happy if he could be told of a timeframe within which the matter would be concluded, particularly as matters were heard in Afrikaans and there were no problems on appeal.
Mr Bongo said this was a matter which had been raised during the budget votes and the DOJCD had been requested to have lawyers taught indigenous African languages as a compulsory aspect of their legal training as a way of bridging the gap. He appreciated that it would be a long process, but willingness must be shown and serious steps needed to be taken to show that the entire criminal justice system was being indigenised.
The Chairperson said the Committee hoped to receive a consolidated report in the future addressing all the concerns raised in the meeting, because the presentation should be taken as a base document which needed to be refined further.
She then declared the meeting adjourned.
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