Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Budget Speech, responses by FF+, ACDP, DA & Al Jama-ah
30 May 2023
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, MP, tables Budget Departmental Budget Vote 2023/24
Honourable House Chairperson;
Deputy Minister of Correctional Services, Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa;
Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers from sister Departments;
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services;
Members of the National Council for Correctional Services;
Members of the Parole Boards;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is a great honour to table the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development budget.
I take this opportunity to extend warm congratulations to Madam Justice Mahube Betty Molemela, who has been appointed as the President of the Supreme Court of Appeal by His Excellency President Ramaphosa, effective 1 June 2023.
The appointment of President Molemela to the high echelons of the leadership of the Supreme Court of Appeal and Judiciary bodes well for our collective efforts to transform the Judiciary. Announcing the appointment of Justice Molemela as President of the Supreme Court of Appeal, President Ramaphosa said:
“Justice Molemela’s appointment adds impetus to the continuing transformation of key institutions of our democracy, including the Judiciary. Justice Molemela is an outstanding jurist who will play a critical role in entrenching justice for all South Africans.”
On this day 30 years ago, the then Appellate Division delivered one of the most significant judgments, which dealt a massive blow to the apartheid scheme of racial segregation in the famous case of Oos-Randse Administrasieraad en 'n Ander v Rikhoto.
Apartheid condemned black families to live in rural areas remote from decent employment.
Black men who found work in urban centres had to leave their families behind. If a man was employed continuously for ten years at the exact location, he could claim that place as his permanent residence, and his wife could join him.
However, employers gave workers successive annual contracts of employment. The then government ruled that ten subsequent yearly contracts at the exact location were not continuous employment for ten years and did not entitle the worker's family to join him.
This law hurt and disembowelled thousands of black family units and black people who could not access permanent resident rights in the country of their birth. To date the country’s family unit is still reeling from the Apartheid government policies that were aimed at disintegrating black families.
The judgment in Rikhoto delivered by the then Appellate Division on this day in 1983 reversed the racist policy. It held that ten successive annual contracts were ten years of continuous employment.
Let us acknowledge the lasting effects of this momentous decision on members of our communities and work together towards upholding justice and equality for all. Our past decisions have influenced our present, but we can collaborate to strive towards a brighter future.
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development plays a pivotal role, serving as the driving force behind the new society we desire through the lens of our Constitution.
As Minister of Justice and Correctional Services since 2019, Deputy Minister Jeffery and I have been working hard to address our Department's many challenges. Unfortunately, external factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, ransomware attacks, and power outages have harmed our progress.
Despite these obstacles, our efforts have yielded positive results. We have seen an overall improvement in the departmental performance with notable increases. In the 2022/23 financial year, the departmental performance was over 80%.
The Department's performance has increased by 30%. The performance increase is significant compared to our Department's performance in the 2019/20 financial year.
Today we table our budget for the financial year 2023/24, which amounts to R23.2 billion (twenty-three comma two billion). The budget will enable the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to uphold and protect the Constitution and the rule of law and render accessible, fair, speedy, and cost-effective administration of justice in the interests of a safer and more secure South Africa.
The budget allocation to the Department is imperative for promoting safer communities and instilling trust in our criminal justice system. It will enable us to enhance our criminal justice system and effectively apprehend and prosecute criminals who threaten individuals and communities.
We have outlined several priorities to achieve our 2023/24 Financial Year objectives.
These include strengthening institutions involved in fighting crime and corruption, implementing modernisation and digitisation initiatives, increasing access to justice, transforming the legal profession, systematically addressing gender-based violence and femicide, safeguarding the human rights of vulnerable groups, and dismantling outdated apartheid and colonial-era legislation.
We should not be deceived by the prophets of doom that we’re a failed state. Where there are challenges, we must confront them, we can’t bury our heads in the sand.
Let me quote from Steven Friedman when he wrote:
‘’The ’failed state’ prejudice hides the fact that, in many countries including this one, states do some things well even if they do many others badly. The South African state may get much wrong. But it has free and fair elections, independent courts and enables its citizens to enjoy basic freedoms, even if only some have the means to enjoy them. This makes a real difference to people’s lives - millions living with HIV and AIDS are alive today only because democracy’s freedoms enabled activists to fight for them. And so, when there are huge problems, there are also possibilities for change which the ‘failed state’ chorus cannot see.
Making this country into one in which everyone enjoys the rights which being the citizen of a state is meant to offer may seem like a tall order. But it becomes impossible if we allow ourselves to be misled by a prejudice posing as science’’.
Today marks the beginning of the Court in Malawi to decide whether Messiers Shipilero Gama well known as Shepperd Bushiri and his wife are extraditable to South Africa or not, the relevant officials are in Malawi to give evidence as per the requirements of the courts in Malawi. We will await the outcomes of the hearing. This is a matter of national interest to the South African government. This shows that the wheels of justice are turning.
We also commend the police for the swift arrest of a fugitive, Rwandan Kayieshma National, this show that you cannot hide from the long arm of the law.
PRIORITY 1: Fight against Corruption
The South African government is firmly committed to fighting crime, fraud, and corruption.
We have allocated a significant portion of our budget towards this critical mission. We must invest in this effort to ensure its success.
To combat crime, fraud and corruption, the National Prosecution Authority's overall allocation for 2023/24 amounts to R5.407 billion (five point four billion rands). This amount includes the additional grant of R915 Million (nine hundred and fifteen million rands) made by government to strengthen our efforts in fighting crime and corruption.
The Investigative Directorate is allocated a portion of 336 million (three hundred and sixty-six million Rands) out of the overall allocation.
The National Prosecution Authority and Special Investigating Unit enforce accountability for crime and maladministration.
Notably, they have made significant progress in investigating corruption-related cases. To further secure this mission, government proposes new policies and legislative amendments to protect whistle-blowers and enhance the powers of the Investigating Directorate.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) effectively deals with over 850,000 criminal cases yearly, with over 600,000 on court dockets. The progress made by the NPA is evident in the numbers. It is encouraging to see that they are growing from strength to strength.
Although there have been some setbacks, they are not insurmountable, and plans are in place to address them.
Holding individuals accountable for their actions is essential. The increase in signed proclamations and civil action instituted in the High Courts and the Special Tribunal is a positive sign. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is also doing a great job investigating allegations of corruption and maladministration in government departments, municipalities, and State-Owned Entities.
POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE AMENDMENTS TO STRENGTHEN OUR CORRUPTION- FIGHTING INSTITUTIONS
New Policy Proposals for Whistle-Blowers
Ensuring the safety and protection of whistle-blowers is crucial to serving justice. Without their cooperation, obtaining convictions can prove challenging.
Therefore, it is imperative to implement strong measures to safeguard them. Extensive research and evaluation of the protected disclosures and witness protection legislation in South Africa has uncovered gaps and shortcomings in the current system.
The Department conducted a comparative analysis with other jurisdictions to ensure adequate and effective whistle-blower protection. According to our research, there are better ways to promote organisational transparency and accountability than incentivising whistle-blowers.
We intend to release the research paper for public comment in June. The research paper includes recommendations such as providing legal assistance to whistle-blowers, enhancing internal policy oversight, and creating a fund for those experiencing retaliations with financial implications.
NPA AMENDMENT BILL TO MAKE INVESTIGATIVE DIRECTORATE PERMANENT:
The National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Bill seeks to amend the legislation to make the Investigating Directorate a permanent agency in the NPA and not one created and disbanded by proclamation. The Bill also aims to enhance the powers of the ID.
ADDRESSING FAFT FINDINGS
Government has introduced new laws to address FATF findings and enhance its capacity to prosecute financial crimes.
The Regulation of Trusts Bill seeks to regulate the establishment of trusts and provide for legislative measures on par with the current socio-economic, jurisprudential, and practical landscapes in which trusts are created and operated.
Additionally, the SIU and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are collaborating to enhance the use of technology to fight the scourge of corruption and maladministration in the country. The Department is committed to developing partnerships in the public service, the private sector, professional bodies, media, and international networking to mobilise all sectors to engage in the fight against corruption.
PRIORITY 2: Implement the Department's Modernisation and Digitisation program.
The Department of Justice is taking proactive steps towards modernising and digitising its services to better serve the public, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a focus on upgrading its IT infrastructure, the Department invests in state-of-the-art data centre equipment and essential business applications such as MojaPay and ICMS & Online Services Portals. The Department has also implemented innovative Court Audio Visual Solutions, enabling parties to appear in Court via video, eliminating the need for physical presence.
To further streamline its systems, the Department has connected 11 government departments/entities to the Integrated Justice System Transversal Hub Connectivity, which has successfully implemented a new system catering to enhanced person integration messages. The Department has developed and piloted six online services as part of its ongoing efforts to improve them. During this financial year, the Department is committed to piloting even more online services, such as Online master’s Services and Online Protection Orders.
Through its commitment to modernisation and digitisation, the Department seeks to enhance access to justice services and improve efficiency, making it easier for the public to obtain the help they need. By investing in new technologies, the Department stays at the forefront of the digital age, providing safe and reliable services that meet the community's needs.
PRIORITY 3: Increasing Access to Justice
The Department has allocated 589.3 million for its Minimum Service Standards initiative, which aims to provide court users with disabilities reasonable access to the courts. The initiative requires 70 courts to comply with universal access standards for individuals with disabilities in the 2022/23 financial year.
Officials from these courts have received training on disability rights and how to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, which is a significant step towards ensuring equal access to justice. The Department will also continue implementing projects that provide additional accommodations, refurbishments, and upgrades to various courts, ensuring everyone can safely and comfortably access the court system safely and comfortably.
Former Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke led the Committee on the Rationalisation of the High Courts, which has completed the first phase of determining the areas over which the main and local seats of every division of the High Court must exercise jurisdiction.
The Committee will commence Phase 2 in June 2023 to evaluate the judicial establishment of each division of the High Court to ensure an equitable distribution of judicial posts across all the divisions.
I am pleased to announce that the Legal Aid SA Means Test has changed to allow more people to access justice. From April 1, 2023, applicants falling under Regulation 27(2)-(6) of the Legal Aid SA Act 39 of 2014 faced a higher Means Test. The ESTA Eviction matters will also have a new Means Test set at R13,625.00 under the ESTA Act. These changes aim to ensure a fair and accessible legal system for all individuals.
The Department has taken great initiatives to improve the justice system. The Department has prepared three bills to improve the administration of justice: the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill, the Divorce Amendment Bill, and the South African Judicial Education Institute Amendment Bill. These bills will bring about effective changes and improve the legal system.
We will also expand our capacity to address the impact of loadshedding in our courts. As of March 2023, 120 courts across the country are equipped with generators or alternative power supply. To ensure that disruptions to court activities resulting from load shedding are kept to a minimum, DOJ&CD has registered additional projects to install generators with Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), at various service points. The projects are at different phases of implementation.
PRIORITY 4: Transformed Legal Profession
The legal profession is undergoing significant changes in our country, thanks to the efforts of the Department. The Legal Practice Council has registered many black legal professionals, including women from disadvantaged communities. We aim to distribute briefs more equitably and recognise those instrumental in bringing about this change.
We are committed to supporting programs like Free Wills Week and expanding them to include free estate advice for disadvantaged individuals. In the last financial year, PDI legal practitioners received 83% of briefs, female practitioners received 28%, and women received 40%. This can be verified through the website of the department of Justice and Constitutional Development that keeps real time data on these stats.
We call upon other organs of state and the private sector to follow suite and publish their briefing par-tens stats.
PRIORITY 5: Systemically Addressing Gender-Based Violence and Femicide
We have implemented Phase 5 of the Femicide Watch, which aims to tackle gender-based violence and femicide. The Department has developed a user-friendly dashboard which enables us to identify systemic issues within national laws and policies across all state departments. Phase 6's efforts to establish a National Strategy for Domestic Violence Court- based support services and measure the percentage of domestic violence protection orders submitted within 4 hours are praiseworthy.
The legislation to repeal provisions that criminalise sex work is at a consultative stage. We prioritise all individuals' safety and well-being, irrespective of gender.
PRIORITY 7: Dismantling apartheid and colonial-era legislation
The South African Law Reform Commission will work diligently with all concerned parties to prepare the Bill to modernise and review the Criminal Procedure Act.
The unconstitutional Riotous Assemblies Act will be a significant focus, and we are confident its repeal and replacement will succeed.
We are also actively addressing the unconstitutional findings of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication Related Information Act.
The International Cooperation in Criminal Matters Amendment and Extradition Bill has been prepared and is ready for introduction.
However, its introduction is pending time allowance and other priorities. Let us hope it will be introduced soon and help fight against criminal activities.
With this budget, the Department and its entities will carry out their constitutional and statutory mandates confidently and efficiently.
This budget enables the Department and its entities to execute their constitutional and statutory mandates.
The Department remains committed to promoting access to economic and business opportunities to Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSEs) and Exempted Micro Enterprises (EMEs).
In the latest financial year, the Department allocated 71% of its discretionary procurement to QSEs and EMEs.
The finance branch will continue to support the Department by allocating 40% of discretionary procurement to Women-owned businesses.
This commitment demonstrates the Department's commitment to promoting equal opportunities within the procurement process and supporting a diverse range of companies.
We take great pride in our commitment to supporting B-BBEE-compliant businesses.
In the financial year 2022/23, we were pleased to report that 91% of our procurement addressable spend was with companies that met the criteria of being classified as B-BBEE Level 1 to Level 4.
Our Department recognises the importance of promoting diversity and inclusivity in our procurement practices, and we will continue to prioritise partnering with businesses that share these values.
In conclusion, I would like to thank Deputy Minister Jeffery for his continued support in leading the programmes in the administration of the justice portfolio, Director-General Advocate Doc Mashabane, the management teams, and the staff in the justice family for their tireless efforts. A special thanks also go to Heads and Chairpersons of statutory bodies, distinguished members of the legal profession and all our social partners.
Work towards a fairer and equitable justice system in the country continues.
I Thank you
Address by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Hon JH Jeffery, MP, at the Debate on Vote 25 (Justice and Constitutional Development), National Assembly, 30 May 2023
Honourable Chairperson, Minister Ronald Lamola,
Deputy Minister Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa, Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
The Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee, Honourable Members,
I am wearing this kufiyeh in solidarity with the human rights of the people of Palestine. I also stand here today in solidarity with the LGBTIQ people from Uganda.
As we enter the last year of the current Administration, there is a renewed commitment and a sense of urgency to finalize and complete all the outstanding initiatives and programmes which we had undertaken to do at the start of this Administration.
Service delivery and access to justice for all remain utmost priorities for our Department.
Access to justice is not just access to the courts - it also means access to justice services, to be assisted with dignity by efficient justice officials, to know one’s constitutional rights, how to access these rights and to know where to go when these rights are infringed.
We continue to support and strengthen our Magistrates Courts as best we can. Our Magistrates Courts face a number of challenges on a daily basis. These contribute to case backlogs.
Backlog cases are cases which are on the roll for more than six months in the District Courts and more than nine months in the Regional Courts.
There are many different reasons why cases are postponed, such as, amongst others, loadshedding, water outages, the unavailability of interpreters, postponements for further police investigations, the unavailability of legal practitioners, prosecutors or magistrates and/or malfunctioning court equipment.
Some of these factors fall within the area of responsibility of our Department, whilst others are the responsibility of other criminal justice stakeholders.
All of these reasons for postponements are continuously being tracked and monitored so that appropriate interventions can be made where these they fall within the responsibility of our Department. Where they do not, we engage with the relevant stakeholder.
To combat the challenges of loadshedding and water outages, the Department has introduced a National Facilities Project for the installation of inverters, generators, solar systems, boreholes and water tanks in our courts.
Of paramount importance going forward is the rationalisation of the judicial establishment of the Lower Courts as it will ensure we have the correct number of District and Regional Magistrates at each court. The Committee on the Rationalisation of the Lower Courts Judicial Establishments, under the chairpersonship of Mr Sam Makamu, is making progress and is expected to submit their report by the end of November this year. Some of the vacant Magistrates posts cannot be filled if it is likely that that post may be moved to another court. There are, however, still acting Magistrates appointed in these positions.
Access to justice also means improving the protection of rights of those who are vulnerable and making it easier for them to access the justice system as well as receiving the necessary support.
The recently passed three GBV Amendment Acts, which are now all in effect, have drastically changed the architecture of the legal framework in the GBVF sector.
One of the salient changes introduced by the Amendment Acts is the recognition of nonverbal communications as oral evidence. A witness under the age of 18 years or any witness who suffers from a physical, psychological, mental or emotional condition, which inhibits their ability to give oral evidence, may use demonstrations, gestures or any non-verbal expression, including the use of communication devices when testifying.
In the previous financial year, the Department amended the Minimum Service Standards for the Strategy on Reasonable Accommodations and Measures to Access Justice for Courts Users with Disabilities in line with these legal developments.
Some 70 lower courts were upgraded in line with these Minimum Standards to provide reasonable accommodations and disability-centric support services.
A total of 145 disability-centric courts have been established nationwide in the previous two financial years, and in this financial year, the Department plans to upgrade an additional 65 lower courts to offer these reasonable accommodations.
The National Prosecuting Authority has seen significant improvements in the expansion of its Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) whilst maintaining high sexual offences conviction rates, with a current conviction rate of 76%.
To date there are 63 operational TCCs located in rural, urban and peri-urban communities nationally. The Jozini TCC in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, which became operational on 1 May 2023, is the most recent addition.
Government’s National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence (the NSP) provided further impetus for the NPA to forge private sector partnerships to increase the number of TCCs, and to re- accommodate or renovate existing TCCs.
One such partnership with Mediclinic resulted in the first TCC to be housed in an unused university student residence of the University of Stellenbosch. It is targeted to be launched as the Stellenbosch TCC later this year.
To enhance access for the physically disabled, all TCCs are equipped with ramps.
In preparation for the declaration of Sign Language as the 12th official language, the NPA’s SOCA unit collaborated with the deaf community and the Wits Centre for Deaf Studies, to produce a South African Sign Language video which welcomes deaf victims or survivors to the TCC, explains the TCC process and what each of the role players does.
With the unabated increase of sexual violence in the country, the court system has to be responsive and more accessible to survivors of sex crimes so as to increase reporting and the use of the courts, while reducing the withdrawal rate by complainants in these cases.
With regards to our Sexual Offences Courts, one of the provisions in the Judicial Matters Amendment Bill, which is currently before this House, amends section 55A of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act to enable the Minister to designate specific Regional Court places of sitting as Sexual Offences Courts. Currently the definition of a Regional Court is the Regional Court of a Province which includes all places of sitting.
The Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Act further recognizes the use of ad hoc intermediaries
at criminal and non-criminal proceedings.
Intermediary services were limited to child witnesses and persons with mental disabilities, but are now available to older persons, as well as witnesses, who suffer from a physical, psychological, mental or emotional condition.
In order to increase the national numerical capacity of our intermediaries, in this financial year the Department plans to employ additional 100 ad hoc intermediaries to appear at criminal and civil proceedings.
Pursuant to the recent changes introduced by this Parliament in the management of the National Register for Sex Offenders, which were made in response to the demands made by women who marched in 2018 under the umbrella of #TheTotalShutDown Movement, the Department has since 31 July last year amended this Register to include particulars of all convicted sex offenders, irrespective of the age and the mental status of the sex crime victim.
I therefore urge educators, lecturers and other workers at tertiary institutions, social workers, heath care officials, child-care givers, employees at pre-schools and nurseries, employees at civil society organisations, and other persons who offer services directly to vulnerable persons to apply for the NRSO clearance certificates as failure to do so amounts to a punishable offence.
The Department will also be introducing an online NRSO application solution to ensure make these services more accessible.
The Integrated Electronic Repository for Protection Orders will be developed in this financial year to ensure that the whole of the Domestic Violence Amendment Act can come into effect. When this Act came into operation on 14 April this year, section 6A which requires the Director- General of Justice and Constitutional Development to establish this Repository, was excluded.
Through this Repository, our courts will, amongst others, be able to be aware of protection orders made by another court.
In this financial year, the Department will also be developing a National Strategy for Domestic Violence to create a seamless chain of value support services to survivors of domestic violence in the criminal justice system.
The violence and discrimination faced by the LGBTIQ+ community is rooted in historical and systemic discrimination linked to intolerance in some religious, cultural and traditional beliefs as well South Africa’s colonial and apartheid past.
Our Constitution, as well as legislative provisions such as the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, provide explicit protections against violence and discrimination, yet the LGBTIQ+ community continues to face stigmatization, violence and discrimination in their daily lives.
Many also report that they have challenges in accessing services from some government and other service providers.
We are currently, once again, reviewing the National Intervention Strategy (the NIS) on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Expression and Sex Characteristics Matters, so as to ensure that the activities in this NIS continue to meet the needs of LGBTIQ+ people.
The National Task Team (NTT) on Gender and Sexual Orientation Based Violence Perpetrated Against LGBTIQ+ Persons was initially established to respond to hate crimes against these communities. However, as the adoption of the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide National Strategic Plan includes violence against Queer people, this means that the NTT has to reconsider its role.
As a result, the reviewed NIS now addresses issues of access to broader human, socio-economic, civil and political rights to LGBTIQ+ people in South Africa.
The revised NIS focuses on prevention programmes to address violence and unfair discrimination on the grounds of SOGIESC, as well as working with faith-based organisations, traditional leaders, human rights organisations, public officials and institutions.
It also includes capacity building of officials at service points and service providers in order to address secondary victimization.
As many are aware, in November last year Cabinet approved the publishing of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Bill of 2022 regarding the decriminalization of sex work for public comments.
The Bill aims to repeal the Sexual Offences Act (previously the Immorality Act) of 1957 and also to repeal Section 11 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses and Related Matters) Amendment Act of 2007 to decriminalise the sale and purchase of adult sex services.
Sex work and the question of how the South African legal system should respond to sex work has been the subject of considerable debate in South Africa.
The proposals of this Bill respond to the list of interventions proposed in Pillar 3 (Protection, Safety and Justice) of the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, which enjoins the criminal justice system to provide protection, safety and justice for survivors of GBV, and to effectively hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Pillar 3 of the NSP contains a list of key interventions, key activities and indicators. One of the key activities under Pillar 3 is the “finalisation of legislative processes to decriminalize sex work – fast- tracking and promulgation.”
This follows the view that the on-going criminalisation of sex work contributes to GBVF as it leaves sex workers unprotected by the law, unable to exercise their rights and open to abuse generally, not least when they approach state facilities for assistance.
The Bill was published for public comment, with a closing date for comments being the end of January this year. The Bill deals only with the decriminalisation of sex work as an urgent step to ensure better protection for sex workers from gender-based violence and femicide, with the intention being to consider regulation as the second stage in the process.
In preparing the Bill for final approval by Cabinet, concerns have been raised by the State Law Advisors that the Bill may not pass constitutional muster if it does not also provide for the regulation of sex work. This view is supported by a legal opinion from a Senior Counsel.
This means that we will not be able to, at this point, proceed with the Bill in its current form. We will therefore be engaging with role-players and drafting provisions on the regulation of sex work so as to ensure that a revised Bill is ready for introduction at the beginning of the next Administration.
The decriminalisation of sex work and the human rights of sex workers remain high on government’s human rights agenda.
To conclude, Honourable Members,
We are entering the last year of the current Administration.
We do not have a minute to waste. We have one year left of this term in which to make a difference in the lives of people and to ensure that our communities receive the services they are entitled to.
This budget will enable us to do so.
I thank you.
ADDRESS BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF JUSTICE AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, NKOSI PHATHEKILE HOLOMISA (AH! DILIZ’INTABA), MP,
ON THE OCCASION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES BUDGET VOTE DEBATE
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, CAPE TOWN, 18 MAY 2023
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Ozzy Lamola, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, John Jeffery, Colleagues and Comrades,
Honourable Members, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
In line with Priorities in South Africa’s Development Agenda, including the National Development Plan 2030, Chapter 12: Building Safer Communities, as well as the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), Priority 6: Social Cohesion and Safe Communities, an integrated approach to safety and security requires coordinated activities across the JCPS Cluster. All vulnerable groups, the majority of whom are women, children, rural communities and those living in informal settlements, should enjoy equal protection and their fear of crime should be eradicated through effective, coordinated responses of law enforcement agencies, business, community and civil society.
Central to DCS efforts in breaking the cycle of crime is the successful reintegration into society of all those under the care of the Department. This is achieved through advancing victim-offender reconciliation, increasing accessibility to efficient community corrections services, and creating economic opportunities for ex-offenders, parolees and probationers.
To achieve this, Community Corrections focuses on the Restorative Justice (RJ) Programme which is aimed at elevating the victim to the centre of the criminal justice system, by making sure that victims are not forgotten when the Department rehabilitates and reintegrates those who have offended. In the 2021/22 financial year, 16 951 victims and 5 758 offenders, parolees and probationers participated in the Restorative Justice programmes.
In the financial year 2021/22, 99% of the 52 054 parolees complied with parole conditions. It remains a cause for serious concern to us that the remaining 1% of the parolees commit more and heinous crimes, which continue to attract news media headlines.
However, it is of serious concern to us that the one percent (1%) with parole violations commit heinous crimes which continue to outrage society. Naturally, we would be happy to achieve 100% compliance were it not for the human frailties from which none of us is immune.
Through its Social Reintegration Framework (SRF), the Department is repositioning the system of Community Corrections. In the context of this framework, placement into community corrections includes all types of conditional placement (i.e. Awaiting Trial Persons , parole, day parole, medical parole) and placement under correctional
supervision. The overarching aim of the Social Reintegration Framework is to keep individuals in the community where, through Community Corrections, DCS will provide supervision interventions and tailored services to prevent re-offending, thereby improving public safety.
In a bid to increase our prospects of success in the system of Community Corrections, the Department took the following steps to capacitate it:
- A total of 518 vehicles have been leased for utilisation in the supervision of parolees and probationers.
- Three hundred and sixty (360) desk top computers, with built in Wi-Fi, were procured, in line with information and communication technology (ICT) modernisation for community corrections.
- The number of community corrections offices is being increased, through identification of unused government structures and engaging relevant stakeholders to provide us with affordable accommodation premises.
- At the same time mobile offices will be introduced to make community corrections services more accessible and efficient.
- Two hundred and ninety (290) Social Workers and DCS Court officials were trained on the Court Manual and applicable legislation, to ensure increased non-custodial sentencing.
- During the current financial year, master trainers and subject matter experts will be trained on security, supervision manual, court manual, social reintegration, tracing and monitoring, as part of capacity building.
- More Community Corrections Forums will be launched during the current financial year.
In terms of Community Outreach programmes and improved social reintegration through strategic partnerships, 233 izimbizo were held including Victim offender dialogues(VODS), marketing of DCS programmes, public amenities cleaning projects.
In March of this year,we renewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders (NHTKL), following the signing of the first MOU in 2019. Encouraged by the successes achieved by the partnership, the Department sought to strengthen relations between both institutions and to gear the MOU towards improved community corrections and efficient reintegration of offenders. This partnership with the NHTKL illustrates our commitment to making corrections a societal responsibility as outlined in the White Paper on Corrections.
The Department also held a dialogue on the role of traditional leaders in Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) and Drug Prevention, in Limpopo, on 03 August 2022. This dialogue was convened in conjunction with the UNODC, University of Venda and Limpopo Provincial House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders.
The Department continues with efforts to facilitate access to economic opportunities for ex-offenders, parolees and probationers. In the financial year of 2021/22, 592 economic opportunities were facilitated. In the same period 6 400 parolees and probationers participated in various community initiatives as part of ‘giving back to the community’. In the current financial year, the Department aims to significantly improve on the 344 job creation and socio-economic opportunities facilitated for victims of crime in 2022/23. In addition to pursuing District-specific partnerships with the business and NGO sectors to leverage the District Development Model(DDM), the Department entered into a nation-wide MOU with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), which is focused on providing demand-driven skills training, entrepreneurship development programmes and facilitating job placement opportunities.
In December 2020, the Constitutional Court declared certain provisions of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998 invalid insofar as they failed to provide for adequate independence for JICS. The declaration of invalidity was initially suspended for 24 months to afford Parliament an opportunity to remedy the defects. In November 2022 the Constitutional Court extended the suspension of invalidity for a further 12 months.
On the recommendation of the Inter-departmental Assessment Committee (IAC), the Minister led engagements between DCS, JICS and National Treasury towards the establishment of JICS as a National Government Component, so as to afford it adequate independence to execute its oversight mandate. The result of the robust consultations is the Correctional Services Amendment Bill and and the JICS Bill, both of which are ready to be put through the legislative processes of Parliament.
The purpose of our Government Information Technology Officer (GITO) Branch is to create business value, through the provisioning of reliable integrated and secure ICT Infrastructure and Business Application Systems to ensure effective strategic alignment and enhancement of business processes in DCS.
GITO has been experiencing delays in the procurement of services to enable it to deliver effective communications technologies through the cabling and mesh network implementation. As a result of these delays, progress in the implementation of the Integrated Inmate Management System has been slow.
Network Switches have been installed in 60, of the 65, identified sites. Telephone communication is also being improved. To date, GITO has implemented Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) in 28 sites. The Microsoft implementation project is progressing well. The department has started reaping the benefits.
Business Intelligence and Smart Analytics will remain a key focus in this financial year. Business Intelligence Systems will be implemented to aid decision making. GITO is committed to addressing the departmental strategic risks. A modern back-up and disaster recovery solution will be implemented this year. Additional efforts will be put towards improving the Cyber Security Resilience for the department. Solutions to address this will be put in place in this (2023/24) financial year.
On 12 May 2023 I embarked on one of my working visits to Baviaanspoort Management Area of the Gauteng Region to interact with the officials who work at the coal-face and to inspect the state of operations at the facility.
Bavianspoort Management Area is one of the management areas which contribute significantly towards Department’s Self Sufficiency and Sustainability Strategic
Framework, through its production of eggs, chicken, beef, pork, dairy products and vegetables. All farming activities are operated through offender labour, where valuable farming skills are transferred to inmates which they will utilise to earn a living upon release. The Management Area is thus able to supply its produce to a number of Correctional Centres.
We will enhance existing self-sufficiency and sustainability projects and improve the distribution of self-produced products amongst regions to ensure that as far as it is possible the Department uses offender labour and skills to provide for its own needs.
House Chairperson, as I commend to the House this Budget Vote for support and approval, I wish to convey my gratitude to Minister Ozzy Lamola for his inspiring leadership, to the National Commissioner for his decisive management of the Department, to the Senior Managers, officials and employees of the Department and the Ministry for their dedication. I am more than pleased with the good working relationship and mutual respect we enjoy with the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services, under the leadership of Justice Cameron, without compromising its integrity and independence. The commitment of the National Council for Correctional Services and the Correctional Services Parole Boards in discharging their unenviable task of deciding who should and who should not be released before the expiry of their sentence period on parole.
Importantly, I wish to extend my appreciation for the support, chastisement, guidance advises and leadership we receive from the Chairperson and Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee whenever we appear before them.
Lastly the support I receive from my family i do not take for granted. I thank you!