ATC090219: Report on Review of the Criminal Justice System

Justice and Correctional Services

Joint report of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, the Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security on joint public hearings on the ‘Review of the Criminal Justice System’, dated 19 February 2009


The Portfolio Committees on Correctional Services, Justice and Constitutional Development, and Safety and Security report jointly as follows:


1. Introduction


1.1.                  The National Assembly’s Portfolio Committees on Correctional Services, Justice and Constitutional Development, and Safety and Security and the National Council of Provinces’ Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Affairs jointly held public hearings in the provinces on the ‘Review of the Criminal Justice System’ (CJS), which contains government’s proposals for a new integrated criminal justice system.


1.2.                  The Committees received oral and written submissions at the hearings. There was a substantial overlap in the issues that emerged. These common issues are captured in section 5, while the Committees’ response is set out in section 6 of the report.


1.3.                  The report was prepared in considerable haste without the extent of collective discussion that the Committees would have preferred. The Committees had other very pressing business to attend to before Parliament concludes its very brief 2009 first quarter sitting to make way for the elections, and have not been able to give this report the  attention it would have otherwise received. However, the Committees feel that the Report covers the key issues reasonably and has to be adopted before the end of this five-year term of Parliament. It would not be fair to expect the post-elections incoming Committees to finalise the Report. It is expected that they will follow up on the matters raised in this Report.    



2. Composition of delegation  


2.1.                 Members who attended public hearings in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Northern Cape were:


National Assembly: Bloem, DV (ANC) (Co-Chair); Jeffrey, JH (ANC); Johnson, CB (ANC); Mabena, CDM (ANC); Meshoe, KRJ (ACDP); Ngwenya, W (ANC); Seaton, S (IFP); Sibanyoni, JB (ANC); Sotyu, MM (ANC) (Co-Chair); Tolo, LJ (ANC); Van Wyk, A (ANC).


National Council of Provinces: Mkhalipi, BJ (ANC); Worth, DA (DA).


2.2.                  Members who attended public hearings in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West were:


National  Assembly: Carrim, YI (ANC) (Co-Chair); Cele MA (ANC); Chikunga, LS (ANC); Joubert, LK (DA); Khaoue, MK (ANC); Moatshe, MS (ANC); Mahote, S (ANC); Sosibo, J (ANC)


National Council of Provinces: Mack, NJ (ANC); Mokoena, ML Kgoshi (Co-Chair); Moseki, ALJ (ANC); Mzizi, MA (IFP); Nyanda, F (ANC).


2.3.                  Members who attended public hearings in the Western Cape were:


National Assembly: Bloem, DV (Chair) (ANC); Chikunga, LS (ANC); Cupido, H (ACDP); Khaoue, MK (ANC); Moatshe, MS (ANC); Ngwenya, W (ANC); Schippers, J (ANC); Sibanyoni, JB (ANC); Sosiba, J (ANC); Tolo, LJ (ANC).


National Council of Provinces: Moseki, ALJ (ANC); Mzizi, M (IFP).



3. Context


3.1.                  Although an overview of the Review of the CJS was first presented at the parliamentary hearings on the ‘Scorpions Bills’ in August 2008, it was clear at that stage that these important and far-reaching plans deserved greater and more focused attention, and that the public needed to be given the opportunity to make further input. Although public comment was invited on the CJS during the public hearings on the “Scorpions Bills” in August 2008, very few comments were received as people who took part in the hearings focused solely on the Bills.


3.2.                  It became necessary to therefore hold specific hearings on the proposed new CJS.  These hearings  also allowed the Committees to:


·   Give feedback on the ‘Scorpion’s Bills’.

·   Hear about problems encountered when incidents of domestic violence, rape and other sexual crimes, are reported to the police.

·   Inform the public of their rights, as well as the obligations of the state towards victims of crime, in terms of the Victims’ Charter.

·   Facilitate the strengthening of relationships between local and provincial law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.


3.3.                  More than 18 000 people attended the public hearings held in eight provinces between 24 November and 5 December 2008 and in the Western Cape on 27 and 28 January 2009.


3.4.                  During the 2008 hearings, the Committees divided into two multiparty delegations, each visiting four of the eight provinces. One delegation held public hearings in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and Northern Cape, while the other held hearings in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West. A multi-party delegation subsequently participated in the Western Cape public hearings.


3.5.                  The location of the hearings was chosen so that submissions could be heard from those living in both urban and rural areas.





Eastern Cape


24 November 2008



24 November 2008

Eastern Cape

Port Elizabeth

25 November 2008



25 November 2008

KwaZulu Natal


26 November 2008



26 November 2008

KwaZulu Natal


27 November 2008



27 November 2008

Northern Cape


1 December 2009



1 December 2009

Northern Cape


2 December 2009



2 December 2009

Free State


3 December 2009

North West


3 December 2009

Free State


4 December 2009

North West


4 December 2009

Western Cape


27 January 2009

Western Cape

Mitchells Plain

28 January 2009


3.6.                  To facilitate public participation, supporting documents on the CJS Review and the Victim’s Charter were made available and distributed before the hearings. These were translated into all of the eleven official languages.


3.7.                  To ensure that everything said at the hearings could be understood by all present, a full translation service was provided. This included sign language translation.


3.8.                  At each hearing, department officials gave a presentation on the CJS Review and the Victim’s Charter. Attention was also drawn to the ‘16 days of activism’ campaign. An overview of these presentations is provided in section 4 below.


3.9.                  As the hearings were also intended to strengthen the relationship between communities and local and provincial law enforcement agencies, officials from the SAPS, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the National Prosecuting Authority, Legal Aid and the Department of Correctional Services were also present to respond to issues raised by the public.


3.10.              Many people spoke about their personal experiences of the criminal justice system. While some problems or queries that were mentioned could be dealt with immediately, this was not always possible, and those wishing to do so were encouraged to make their submissions in writing.


4. Overview of presentations on the CJS review, Victim’s Charter and Women and Child Abuse


At each of the hearings, officials briefed the public on the CJS Review and the Victim’s Charter. The problem of women and child abuse was also highlighted:


4.1.                  CJS Review


4.1.1.              In November 2007, Cabinet approved a 7-point plan to transform the criminal justice system. Overall, the intention is ‘to establish a new, modernised, efficient and transformed criminal justice system. Among other things, this will entail setting up a new coordinating and management structure for the system at every level, from national to local, bringing together the judiciary and magistracy, the police, prosecutors, correctional services and Legal Aid Board, as well as other interventions, including the empowerment of the Community Police Forums’ (President Mbeki, State of the Nation Address, February 2008).


4.1.2.              The review of the CJS entails 2 processes: the first, involves in-depth research looking at long term solutions; the second, focuses on short to medium term solutions, mainly of a practical nature, aimed at removing blockages in the investigation and court processes.


4.1.3.              The purposes of the review are  basically to:


·   Improve public confidence in the criminal justice system and, consequently, enhance its legitimacy.

·   Remove weaknesses and blockages in the system through short, medium and long term interventions.

·   Improve co-ordination and management of the system as a whole.

·   Put in place an appropriate, effective and integrated information technology and communication system, as well as a national and reliable database that serves the entire criminal justice system and provides relevant and timely information to all stakeholders.

·   Facilitate community involvement.


4.1.4.              A comprehensive analysis of the criminal justice system was undertaken and found a system that spans multiple government departments and agencies, involving vast number of personnel, processes and information, and which is “dysfunctional and fragmented”. The review indicated the need for a radical departure to transform the present criminal justice system.


4.1.5.              On the basis of this, seven transformative changes were adopted by Cabinet and underpin the establishment of this new, modernised, efficient and transformed criminal justice system. These are:


·   The adoption of a single vision and mission leading to a single set of objectives, priorities, and performance measurement targets for all departments in the criminal justice system. At present the Departments operate as if in silos.

·   The establishment of a new, realigned, single, co-ordinating and management structure, headed by an Executive Member, who has co-ordination and management functions and not executive powers. At present, the Deputy Minister of Justice has been appointed to drive these activities. The Departments, however, remain responsible for the execution of the any plans in terms of the new system.

·   The making of substantial changes to the present court processes in criminal cases, especially in the regional courts.

·   The implementation of key priorities identified for the component parts of the criminal justice system which are part of or impact on the new court processes, especially those relating to capacity.

·   The establishment of an integrated and seamless national criminal justice system information technology database/system.

·   The modernisation of all aspects of the systems and equipment of the criminal justice system. (For example, video postponements allow for the postponement of cases without having to transport awaiting trial prisoners to and from court. The introduction of increased and enhanced expert capacity in the respective departments - for example, more forensic experts).

·   The involvement of the population at large, especially by introducing changes to the community policing forums.


4.1.6.              Several initiatives have already been introduced or will be introduced shortly: Small Claim’s Courts will be held on Saturdays; Regional Courts will be given civil jurisdiction; and at least one court will be able to deal with a case in the language common to the area.


4.2.                  Service Charter for Victims of Crime (Victims’ Charter)


4.2.1.              The ‘Service Charter for Victims of Crime’ focuses on the rights of victims of crime and the obligations of the state to them. It seeks to balance the rights of the accused and the victims in a way that is consistent with the Constitution and international norms. Victims of crime have the following 7 rights:

·   The right to be treated with fairness and dignity and with respect for a person’s dignity and privacy.

·   The right to offer information.

·   The right to receive information.

·   The right to protection.

·   The right to assistance.

·   The right to compensation.

·   The right to restitution.



4.3.                  Women and Child Abuse


4.3.1.              As the public hearings coincided with the ‘16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence’ campaign, the issue of domestic violence against women and children was also highlighted.


4.3.2.              The Domestic Violence Act, 1998, is aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence. The SAPS plays a key role in enforcing it: The SAPS must open a case if there is a complaint, and keep a register of such complaints. The SAPS must see to the safety of a complainant if this is necessary. Under the Act, the victim may apply to the court for a protection order, which the SAPS is responsible for enforcing. The ‘Victim Empowerment Programme’ is particularly important for providing the necessary support to victims of domestic violence.


4.3.3.              A major problem in curbing domestic violence is that complainants often withdraw charges. This serves to encourage perpetrators, as they know that they are unlikely to be held legally accountable for their actions. Women, who experience abuse, have a broader responsibility to not only report but also to follow through with their complaints. The community can also play an important role in the curbing of domestic violence.


5. Issues Emerging from the Hearings


5.1.                  Safety and Security


The majority of submissions were about the public’s experience of their interactions with the police:


5.1.1.              Police Corruption, Brutality and Misconduct: Complaints of police corruption, brutality and misconduct were widespread. However, these complaints were also countered by recognition among a minority of those who spoke at the hearings that there are hardworking and honest police who persist despite the lack of resources and the threats to their lives.


5.1.2.              Inefficiencies and Delays: There were many complaints about inefficiencies and delays, particularly when responding to a complaint. Many expressed their frustration at the difficulties they had in obtaining information about progress made in a case: dockets going ‘missing’; complainants being unable to speak to anyone who was prepared to take responsibility for a case; and matters dragging on for years with no adequate explanation for the delays.


5.1.3.              Mismanagement of Police Vehicles: Closely related was the observation that police vehicles stand idle, or are misappropriated for private use. Their lack of availability for official use contributes to delays in responding to calls for assistance from the public.


5.1.4.              Taking of Statements: Many complained that the police need training to take statements and are often ignorant of the laws they are meant to enforce. Statements taken by the police were described as factually or procedurally incorrect, causing cases to be dismissed or delayed.


5.1.5.              Accessibility: There were also concerns about the accessibility of the police. Having to travel long distances to report a crime is a problem, and there were calls for more stations.


5.1.6.              Community Police Forums: Many submissions supported more effective and expanded Community Police Forums (CPFs):

§   People active in the CPFs complained about a lack of resources, such as office space to work from; and petrol and phone allowances to report crimes on behalf of complainants. There was a suggestion that they be given T-shirts so that they are easily identifiable to the community.

§   In many cases, the relationship between the CPFs and the SAPS is not good although, in some cases, the CPFs and the police are working well together. Some people complained that the police were not interested in making the CPFs work. Others felt that the police expected the CPFs to do their work for them.

§   A lack of co-operation between the ward committees and CPFs was also raised as a problem in some places.

§   Attention was drawn to the need for legislation that supports the ‘Neighbourhood Watches’.

§   Many people who are active in the CPFs are unemployed. At present they volunteer their services. However, a common view was that government should pay volunteers for their services. Some felt that they should receive some form of accreditation for the work they do which could assist them in getting jobs. CPF members and volunteers, felt some, should also receive preference when police engage in recruitment drives.


5.1.7.              Rotation of Police: When police become overly familiar with individuals in the communities they serve, they often tend to favour certain individuals – or so it is seen. This perception impacts negatively on the image of the police, undermining their legitimacy in the eyes of the communities they serve. It was suggested that it would be better that police officials do not work in the place where they live, and are rotated regularly, as familiarity with an area made it easier for corrupt practices to develop. But it was also recognised that rotating police officers has practical drawbacks, and would be disruptive to their family lives.


5.1.8.              Requirement of Drivers Licence Unfair: There were some who felt that it is discriminatory to require that recruits to the SAPS possess a driver’s licence. This entry requirement places the poor and those in rural communities at a disadvantage, as they are unable to afford driving lessons.


5.1.9.              Taverns: Alcohol is often a factor in the incidence of crime. The view is that the number of existing taverns should be closely regulated, as should their hours of operation. Nor should they be allowed to operate close to schools. There were pleas that communities are consulted before licences are granted.


5.1.10.          Allocation of Resources: The allocation of resources to the police should take into account local circumstances. For example, if the area being policed covered very mountainous areas, horses or 4x4s would be needed.


5.1.11.          Police Bias: The perception exists that there is discrimination in the way in which reported crimes are dealt with. In some places, the feeling was that the police responded more swiftly and invested more energy when investigating cases involving white victims. There were also complaints that cases involving those who are politically connected, wealthy or powerful, are often not pursued. At hearings in rural areas a common submission was that the police and courts do not act against white farmers.


5.1.12.          Border Policing: In Limpopo and Mpumalanga, concern was raised at the ineffectiveness of the SAPS in addressing cross-border crime (such as human trafficking, guns, drugs, stolen cars, and stocktheft). Previously, the South African National Defence Force patrolled these borders on foot but this function has been taken over by the SAPS. Much unhappiness was expressed at the inability of the police to effectively perform this function.


5.1.13.          Witness Protection: It was also raised that the police are often reckless with information. By disclosing the identity of witnesses to criminals, the police place witnesses at risk from criminals, who then are able to intimidate them.


5.1.14.          Forensic Laboratories: Some people complained that there are not enough forensic laboratories, causing unacceptable delays in finalising cases. These delays also contribute to cases ultimately being withdrawn.


5.1.15.          Domestic Violence Cases: Some maintained that instead of protecting women and children from domestic violence, protection orders can place them in further danger from their partners, and can result in the break up of families. The manner in which the police deal with domestic violence cases is critical. There were complaints that the police are reluctant to become involved as they regard domestic violence cases as ‘domestic matters’. A lack of sensitivity by the police when dealing with victims of domestic violence was also remarked on. That men too can be victims of domestic violence was highlighted, as was the need to ensure that their cases are taken seriously and that they too are treated with sensitivity.


5.2.                  Justice


While there were fewer submissions that dealt directly with the Courts, distrust of, even bewilderment at the way the judicial system works was evident:


5.2.1.              Rights of Victims vs Accused: People were enraged that those they know to be criminals are allowed to roam freely because the charges against them are dropped or they get bail or receive lenient sentences. There was a general feeling of anger at the failure to properly balance the rights of accused and victims. The system at present disproportionately favours accused at the expense of their victims, said many people. There were complaints about the release on bail of people accused of committing serious crimes. While some misunderstood what bail is (that to be released on bail is the same as being acquitted) many felt simply that these perpetrators are a danger to the community - not only can they commit further crimes but they are also free to intimidate witnesses. Some felt that the Constitution should be amended to curtail the rights of the accused. Many believe that the support given to victims of sexual crimes is inadequate. The system does not protect victims of sexual crimes, who face secondary trauma at the hands of the law. The view was expressed that it is unfair that accused have attorneys – whether state appointed or private practitioners - to protect their interests, while victims do not enjoy the same privilege. Also, witnesses, especially child witnesses, should be protected.


5.2.2.              Children Have Too Many Rights: Some believed that ‘children’s rights’ in the new democracy significantly contributes to problems when adults (parents and teachers) attempt to discipline children, contributing to the breakdown of societal norms and fostering delinquency. Some held that there is too much freedom in the country now. Children have too many rights. When parents attempt to impose discipline, children threaten to take them to court.


5.2.3.              Bias of Magistrates and Judges: Dismay was expressed at perceived inconsistencies in sentencing, especially in rape and murder cases. Some felt that these inconsistencies are explained by racism, or other form of discrimination or bias on the part of judicial officers. These views displayed a deep sense of distrust of those who mete out the law.


5.2.4.              Expungement of Criminal Records: Some believed that the consequence of possessing a criminal record can be disproportionately harsh, especially for petty offenders who have gone on to be law-abiding citizens. In particular, the possession of a criminal record makes it very difficult to find employment, and can be a factor leading to recidivism.


5.2.5.              Languages: The predominant use of English and Afrikaans in courts is alienating to those appearing in our courts, and undermines the legitimacy of the justice system in the eyes of the public. There are also too few translators in some of the courts.


5.2.6.              Time Taken to Finalise Cases: There was frustration at the length of time it takes to finalise a case.


5.2.7.              Traditional Courts: The need to fast-track the integration of Traditional Courts within the ‘mainstream’ criminal justice system was mentioned.


5.3.                  Correctional Services


5.3.1.              Prison Escapes: Concern was expressed at the number of escapes from prisons. When escapes occur, lives are endangered, especially of witnesses, it was said. The problem of corruption within the Department of Correctional Services was raised, particularly in connection with officials being implicated in the escapes.


5.3.2.              Rehabilitation: The majority of participants who spoke on the matter were opposed to prisoners being given education in prison. They felt that prisoners have a better life than themselves, with too many privileges. They said that it is unfair that prisoners are fed, have access to television and receive free education and job training, while those on the outside must struggle for survival. They felt that prisons are just too comfortable to be a deterrent to crime. However, some felt that if criminals were properly educated while in prison they would not be inclined to commit crime after they were released.


5.3.3.              Overcrowding: Several people referred to problems around overcrowding in prisons. Some said that bail should be allowed for people who commit petty crimes.


5.3.4.              Parole: Some said that the Department should consult with communities before parolees are returned to the community as they may not be welcome back in these communities.


5.3.5.              Prison Gangs: There was much concern at the continued existence of prison gangs. People said that it is wrong that first-time offenders are placed with hardened criminals, who might also be gangsters.


5.4.                  General


5.4.1.              Traditional Healers: Traditional healers were very active at the hearings, almost acting as a lobby group with common concerns. They complained that when they are accused of witchcraft, the police often fail to protect them. Some maintained that not only are they consulted by members of the community but also are asked by the police for help in solving crimes. They should be recognised as part of the policing system, they held. They said that it was not true that they helped criminals to escape detection. They accused traditional healers from Zimbabwe of doing this. They pointed out that they registered as traditional healers, unlike traditional healers from Zimbabwe, who were freer to engage in such activities.


5.4.2.              Support for Victims of Sexual Crimes: There was anger and concern at the high incidence of rape, especially of young children. The need for better and more counselling facilities for rape victims was raised.


5.4.3.              Disabled Persons: There were concerns that police stations and courts are not able to accommodate the needs to disabled persons. This makes it even more difficult for disabled persons to access the CJS.


5.4.4.              Community Support for Crime: Many also pointed out that communities tacitly support crime when buying stolen goods, or when they do not report a crime.


6. Committees’ Response


6.1.                  As indicated in section 1.3 above, the Committees have had to finalise this report in considerable haste, without the considered collective discussion we would have preferred. However, we believe the report will serve as a useful basis for the post-elections incoming Committees to take matters forward.


6.2.                  In some respects much of what emerged in the public hearings was predictable. But it was the depth of frustration and the closeness of the people to the edge that was striking. The glaring message that emerged from the public hearings is that people are utterly fed up about crime, have little faith in the police and courts, and want the state to take much tougher action against criminals. If people still want to play a role in reducing crime, it is not clear for how long they will wait for results. They seem to be willing to take the law into their own hands. Increasing numbers of them are probably already doing so.


6.3.                  The Committees believe that we cannot just wave our human rights principles at people. But we cannot just succumb to people’s current frustrations either. We need to connect with where people are, and engage them about the need for a constitutionally sound balance between the rights of the victims of crime and the accused. The government’s proposed “Victims Charter” which sets out the rights of victims and the state’s obligations to them should, the Committees believe, be processed expeditiously. 


6.4.                  More immediately, there has to be a swift, simple, effective message to people that the state genuinely cares for them and is serious about crime. The Committees believe that the government’s new 7-point CJS has to be improved, aspects prioritised and expeditiously implemented.


6.5.                  The Committees believe that for the CJS Review to be fully effective, it will need to also address the problems of police corruption and misconduct.


6.6.                  The Committees feel that there is an urgent need to strengthen the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), whose task it is to investigate complaints of death of detainees, and police misconduct and crime allegedly committed by members of the police force. The ICD is largely ineffective. It may well be necessary to have separate legislation for the ICD, instead of including the ICD in the SAPS Act, as is the case at present. Attention is drawn to the report of the Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security on the South African Police Service Amendment Bill (Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports, 20 October 2008) which makes suggestions on an improved independent oversight mechanism for the SAPS.


6.7.                  The Committees note many submissions were about police vehicles being unavailable to respond to a crime that is being reported. This, the Committees were told, cannot be attributed to there not being enough vehicles within the SAPS. While there may be some mismanagement of vehicles at station level, the Committees understand that the problem lies mostly with the allocation and distribution of vehicles at National and Provincial level. The Safety and Security Committees are aware of the problem, have taken it up with the Department and intend to bring it to the attention of the incoming committees to take up further.


6.8.                  As raised in 6.3 above, the Committees note that there is a perception that the rights of accused are given preference over those of victims. Anger at the unfairness of this was especially evident in connection with the granting of bail, where communities see perpetrators arrested and then swiftly released only to commit further crimes and/or to intimidate witnesses. The Victims’ Charter is an important instrument that elaborates and consolidates the rights and obligations relating to services available to victims of crime. While this initiative is commendable, much more remains to be done if the concerns expressed by the public are to be addressed. The Committees notes that the Victims Charter embraces restorative justice principles in a system that is at present largely adversarial and retributive. To give effect to the Victim’s Charter will involve a paradigm shift, with accompanying allocation of resources - and the relevant Parliamentary Committees need to monitor this.


6.9.                  The Committees feel that it is crucial that the CPFs be strengthened. There has to be a clear policy framework for an expanded role for CPFs. The issues raised in the public hearings about CPFs above need to be urgently addressed. The Gauteng CPF system seems most advanced. We need to improve on it and extend CPFs throughout the country. Within budgetary constraints, government needs to consider paying CPF members a stipend. Consideration should also be given to providing CPF members across the country with a common T-shirt so that they can be identified. Street committees, neighbourhood watches, ward committees and school governing bodies can also be used to mobilise people against crime. Discussions should be held between national, provincial and local government on the possibilities of effective working relations between ward committees and CPFs, and the need for ward committees to prioritise crime in their work.


6.10.              The Committees note that there are plans to introduce community safety forums, which are forums catering for community participation in all areas of the criminal justice system and not only in the area of policing. The vision is that the CPFs will become part of these larger community participation structures. Parliament should closely monitor the implementation and allocation of resources to these structures. In the interim, communities should be encouraged to participate in the existing CPFs, and consideration be given to measures, as raised in 6.9 above, that will encourage this.


6.11.              The Committees note the concerns of people about the technical capacity of the police, as referred to in sections 5.1.2 and 5.1.4 and feel that the training of police on basic functions like the taking of statements needs to be considerably stepped up – and the Committees will monitor this closely.


6.12.              Many people expressed their bewilderment at the how the CJS works, and showed little understanding of the underlying constitutional principles. The Committees feel that there needs to be ongoing public education involving all the Departments within the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster on how the system works; the role of the various departments within the Cluster; bail, sentencing and parole, etc.


6.13.              Many people expressed their disapproval for certain rights contained in the Constitution, particularly, children’s rights which were argued to undermine parental authority; and the right to bail which was said to favour criminals over victims. More generally, issues relating to xenophobia and racism were also raised. The Committee feels that not enough is being done to deepen public understanding of the Constitution, and more specifically of the Bill of Rights. This understanding should also aim to increase awareness not only of the right itself, but of the reason for it being part of the Bill of Rights. Also, there should be an explanation for how conflicting rights are managed in terms of the Constitution. The Chapter 9 institutions should assist in this.


6.14.              Attention was drawn to the need for the police to show greater sensitivity when dealing with victims of domestic violence and in cases involving sexual crimes. The plight of male victims of domestic violence was also mentioned. The Committees feel that more should be done to ensure that the police, court officials, presiding officers and any other officials within the justice system who may come into contact with victims of domestic violence receive the necessary training to equip them to deal with these victims, including male victims of domestic abuse, knowledgeably and sensitively.


6.15.              Although the Committee accept that there are many problems with the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, the Committee cannot agree with the view expressed by some that overall the legislation does more harm than good. However, given the complexities of such matters, it believes that it would be better if protection orders were accompanied by effective programmes to reduce the potential for violence of the male partner, where possible, and more monitoring by the state. Parliament should continue to closely monitor the implementation of the legislation, including ensuing that the ICD regularly submits its reports on police compliance with the requirements of the Act and that these are useful reports.


6.16.              The accessibility of our courts was constantly raised. This included the need for the courts to be conducted in the languages common to the area. The Committees welcome the initiative of the Department of Justice to address this problem – but feel that more should be done, and will follow up on this.


6.17.              The Committees are aware of the problem that criminal records pose, especially in getting employment. Recently, Parliament passed legislation that will allow for the expungement of a person’s criminal record for minor crimes after a certain number of years have elapsed. However, this is a complex issue requiring a careful balance that safeguards the rights of the public against criminals, while recognising that possessing a criminal record can cause undue hardship. The Justice Committee’s concerns on this were conveyed to the Executive with the request that further research is conducted, and that it reports to Parliament on its findings within 24 months. This matter can be addressed further through this process.


6.18.              The Committees note the problems relating to the shortage of forensic laboratories and the relevant expertise pose to law enforcement. It is pleased to see that the CJS Review intends to tackle this problem as part of its 7-transformative changes. However, given the existing severe shortage of laboratories and capacity, the Committees believe that implementation may prove particularly challenging, requiring that the incoming committees within the Cluster closely monitor progress made.


6.19.              The Committees note that some submissions related to problems of accessibility for disabled persons. It is vital that police stations and courts are accessible to the disabled, and the Departments should ensure that this is happens.


6.20.              The Committees notes views on the rehabilitation of offenders, as well as their reintegration once they have served their prison term, as referred to in 5.3.2 above. Many were deeply resentful of the seemingly favourable conditions in prisons that allow prisoners to receive food, education, and skills training, etc. The Committees believe that the Department of Correctional Service needs to do much more to educate the public on the value of rehabilitation to society. That for some prison appears an attractive, even cushy option, however, suggests the desperation of people and reinforces the need to urgently improve the living condition of the poor.


6.21.              The Committees note that many people asked that communities at least be notified before offenders are released. The Committees feel that much more needs to be done to ensure that communities are involved when offenders are released, and will raise this further with the relevant stakeholders.


6.22.              The Committees note that the Ministry of Justice is working on a major policy and legislative framework for the transformation of the judiciary – and urges that this work be finalised expeditiously.


6.23.              As mentioned by a participant in the hearings, the Committees believe that the boundaries of police structures should be consistent with municipal boundaries.


6.24.              The Committees recognise that it will not be possible to significantly reduce crime unless there is an improvement in the socio-economic conditions, including economic growth, creating jobs and delivering services. But we will also not be able to significantly improve socio-economic conditions unless we reduce crime. The global financial and economic crisis means slower economic growth rates and a reduction in jobs in our country in the immediate period. Hence reducing crime will be even more challenging – but crucial to doing so will be the active involvement of ordinary people.


6.25.              The Committees feel that it is also important that we have strong, stable families, with parents taking greater responsibility for children, despite the socio-economic challenges. In the hearings, it was almost as if some parents were pleading that the state takes over their parenting responsibilities. Of course, the state must create better conditions for viable families – but parents have to parent. Traditional leaders and traditional healers can also play important roles in reducing crime. Religious institutions are crucial.


6.26.              The Committees have identified many issues in this Report, especially in this section, that the executive needs to act on. But the Committees also need to act to ensure that these recommendations are acted on – and it is proposed that the incoming post-elections Committees meet within 6 weeks of their being convened to shape a programme of oversight and other forms of action to advance the issues raised in this report.


6.27.              Finally, the Committees note the many challenges confronting the CJS. Considerable effort will be required to deal with these challenges. It is vital that the government finalises the new integrated CJS as soon as possible taking into account the submissions made by ordinary people at the public hearings and the views of the parliamentary Committees. The government needs to develop a phased, strategic implementation plan. Crucial to the success of the implementation of the new CJS will be the active participation of all the key stakeholders, including parliament, the judiciary, SAPS, NPA, business, trade unions, NGOs, technical experts and other sections of civil society. The active participation of ordinary people is vital too. We need a concerted, massive, sustained onslaught on crime. The Committees feel that if we all work effectively together we will, over time, significantly reduce crime. As a participant in the public hearings said “We defeated apartheid. We must defeat crime like that.” The Committees agree.  



7. Acknowledgements


7.1.                  Organising the public hearings required considerable effort. Despite some hiccups, the Committee Section was very competent in organising very successful hearings, and should be commended for its work. The Committees are very grateful to Ms Zanele Mene, the Committee Section Manager, and the rest of her team and others from the staff of parliament who participated in the hearings in various ways.


7.2.                  The Committees acknowledge the contribution of the parliamentary Content Advisors, in particular Ms Christine Silkstone, who substantially shaped the content of this report.



Report to be adopted.



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