Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster media briefing, Cape Town
19 February 2008
Criminal justice review
One of the major tasks of the JCPS cluster of government this year will be the implementation of the decision of Cabinet to establish a new, modernised, efficient and transformed criminal justice system (CJS). Cabinet's decision on this question was made after an extensive review, supported by the Presidential Big Business Working Group, which was intended to find answers to the problems of the criminal justice system.
The revamped CJS is designed to provide quality and professional services which will include the dispensation of swift, equitable and fair justice in criminal matters and, which, on a sustainable basis, will act as an effective deterrent to crime.
The review is also expected to enhance the integrity of the criminal justice system and boost public confidence.
Plan of action
The cluster will implement Cabinet's decisions in phases to achieve maximum impact. The initial focus will be on the removal of blockages to effective investigations and negative elements on the adjudication chain.
Other measures will include improving the expertise of and resources available to detectives and developing and implementing co-ordinating guidelines for all the roleplayers within the justice system at the national, provincial and local levels. Specific proposals on the co-ordinating guidelines will be presented to Cabinet soon and these will include proposals on appropriate management structures that are necessary, including the role of the Executive.
The proposals we want should establish a seamless interlink between the police, prosecuting authority and corrections. Other structures with which co-ordination needs to be enhanced include the judiciary, magistracy and the Legal Aid Board.
An operations team will be established as a trouble-shooter in the CJS. Part of its function will be to obviate blockages across the CJS. It will be a permanent operational structure that will be comprised of senior representatives from Justice (court services); South Africa Police Service (SAPS) (detective and forensic services); National Prosecuting Authority (prosecuting services); Correctional Services and the Legal Aid Board.
The management of cases, especially the backlog of cases pending trial and/ or finalisation, will receive particular attention. In this regard, retired magistrates and prosecutors will be deployed with a view to improving effectiveness.
The review calls for a re-look at the laws, procedures, processes and structures that underpin the criminal justice system, so that improvements can be effected and aspects that inhibit the proper functioning of the system are eliminated.
Substantial changes will be made to the present court procedures in relation to criminal matters. Regional courts, where most serious and violent crimes cases are heard, will receive special focus and attention.
The Community Policing Forums will be drawn into the modernised system as a civilian structure that will help to monitor progress in the implementation of the modernisation process and ensure that the symbiosis between all the criminal justice system structures is nurtured.
Pending the establishment and functioning of the proposed new CJS structure, we will recommend to cabinet the establishment of a cross cutting interim task team to commence the implementation of certain aspects of the proposal
Key to the success of the initiatives will be proper management, as the President said in his State of the Nation Address.
The revamped CJS will enable us to deal more effectively with crime in all its dimensions.
There are two crime types, however, we want to concentrate on this year – social crime and organised crime.
Social crime accounts for most of the serious and violent crimes that happen in South Africa. Acquaintance crime, where perpetrators are known to their targets because they are either relatives, family friends or acquaintances of the victims, accounts for approximately 80% of all serious and violent crime against the person, including murder, rape and violent assault.
Our social crime prevention programme was boosted by the establishment of various partnerships with some communities and organs of civil society, as well as with the business sector.
A number of police stations in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape have been drawn into a social crime prevention programme with the communities under a structure called Community Building Credible Ownership, which was established as a partnership between the communities and the police.
The project is an instrument to mobilise and develop communities to embrace the concept of civic responsibility in the fight against crime. It is based on the street committee experience which was one of the key components in the mobilisation of communities against apartheid.
The project, in true street committee style, goes beyond just the matter of safety and security and extends over the entire criminal justice system as well as look at the broader needs of the people, especially their conditions of life.
Bambanani in the Western Cape is being joined by more volunteers who help in various ways to prevent crime in the province. They have worked together with the police on the trains and on the beaches and other areas of entertainment during the festive season, helping to reduce crime substantially.
The Community Policing Forums have raised the level of their participation in the war against crime and, working with the JCPS cluster, will complete this year their restructuring to produce a better entity that will fulfil its function as an instrument to co-ordinate the relationship between the communities and the police.
There are other initiatives underway including the Anti-Crime Leadership Forum of government and the business sector; Business Against Crime; ACT Against Crime Together; Take Charge; Active Citizens Campaign; the National Religious Leaders Forum, and Primedia Crime Stop which is extending its reach through a partnership with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
Further, we shall enhance our co-ordination as the JCPS with the provincial and local government authorities. In other words, we aim to mobilise these spheres of government to prioritise programmes that will assist to prevent crimes from taking place.
This year, the cluster will be receiving a report on why crime in South Africa is so violent. In considering the report and the response we have to deploy, we shall also develop proposals that will assist the country effectively to reduce the rate of what we refer to as acquaintance crimes. Partnerships at the local level will assist in this regard.
Accordingly, we will work with owners of liquor outlets and their suppliers, religious leaders, teachers, youth formations, traditional leaders, and other formations of community-based organisations.
We shall engage in all these matters to address other national imperatives like significantly reducing the number of road fatalities in our country.
The crime that affects the national psyche the worst is organised crime where shootouts between the criminals and law enforcement agents happen at times in the glare of daylight, on our streets and roads. Innocent bystanders have been caught in the crossfire and some have sustained fatal injuries.
Organised crime spans a wide area: illegal drugs and substances; illegal smuggling and trade in counterfeit goods; the plundering of mineral and marine resources; illegal smuggling of weapons; human and child trafficking; car and truck hijacking; aggravated robberies; cable theft; money laundering and fraud, to mention a few examples.
Organised crime is dealt with by certain units across the JCPS cluster. The movement control measures we have are a joint responsibility between Customs; Immigration; SAPS and the Intelligence Community. Among other things those structures deal with contraband and human and child trafficking. The Financial Intelligence Centre and the rest of the Intelligence Community handle, among others, crimes that relate to money laundering.
The bulk of the work in the fight against organised crime is done by the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO), otherwise known as the Scorpions, and the Organised Crime Unit of the police.
We have been doing an assessment of the work of all the units we have in the fight against crime, generally, through our review of the CJS, and, specifically with respect to the fight against organised crime.
Among weaknesses we identified were lack of co-ordination and parallel investigations with different entry points and even different results on the same questions at issue. Those problems have translated often into conflicts within the law enforcement environment.
We are looking at the best options to improve our work. It will be recalled that one of the options government was given, was the recommendation by the Khampepe Judicial Commission, which recommended that the Scorpions were to remain under Justice but report, in terms of their investigative work, to Safety and Security.
The JCPS cluster is discussing another option that will be taken to Cabinet soon. The proposal is that government reconfigures the organised crime combating units that we have to design a programme we believe will work to the best interests of our country. We will suggest to Cabinet the establishment of an organised crime machinery that will have better priority-setting mechanisms to prevent gaps and undue overlaps in the fight against organised crime. The arrangement will also see the creation of a common pool for sharing information and other enabling resources. We want, as part of the proposed arrangement, properly to co-ordinate the relationship we have with foreign law enforcement and intelligence agencies and we want to create conditions for better strategic and integrated analysis and research.
Our proposal, therefore, is to create a team that will work in the best collective traditions to fight organised crime. That team will be an amalgamation of the best investigators of both the DSO and the police Organised Crime Unit. Other investigators will be recruited elsewhere to give the new structure adequate capacity.
We will argue for more material resources to be allocated to give the new structure the necessary wherewithal to sharpen their interventions in the war against organised crime. Further, the new unit will have all the powers that currently only the DSO has and it shall only deal with complex cases that will be referred to it.
An instrument that was established to facilitate integration between the DSO and the police in particular was the Ministerial Co-ordinating Committee (MCC) that was established in terms of section 31 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act, no 32 of 1998 (as amended). In light of the proposed changes that we have outlined, the MCC will have to be amended, both in terms of its composition and in terms of its mandate.
The MCC will ensure co-ordination across many departments and stakeholders: the police; the National Prosecuting Authority; the Asset Forfeiture Unit; the National Prosecuting Service; the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and the other intelligence agencies; Customs; Home Affairs, and other entities of the state notably those with a responsibility in ports of entry, including state owned enterprises.
In the next three years, the Border Control Co-ordinating Committee (BCOCC) will direct its resources and efforts to achieve, among other things, the development of a single National Integrated Border Management Strategy (NIBMS). This will allow for:
* an all embracing high level of strategic direction for border control, in compliance with international norms so as to maintain territorial integrity and
* expedite the legitimate movement of cross-border trade and people migration, whilst deterring, detecting, identifying, preventing and where necessary interdicting illegal or hostile cross border movement.
This will be supported by implementing an integrated and responsive border control system and establishing a National Border Management Co-ordination Centre (NBMCC).
These interventions are necessary to ensure effective operational co-ordination between State agencies in order to facilitate legitimate trade whilst protecting the domestic economy and our society against the illegal movements of illicit goods, including narcotics and illegal weapons.
The NBMCC will monitor the situation on all of the Republic's borders. It will be tasked with facilitating rapid information exchange between the various border management agencies and will co-ordinate joint activities, operations and incident responses when required at the national level.
Government policy defines special emphasis on co-ordination and co-operation with our neighbouring and regional partners in matters of border management and in combating trans-national crime.
We are strengthening and improving, therefore, co-operation with the countries within our sphere of influence, where we are covering the whole spectrum of cross-border co-operation, exchange of national liaison officers, risk analysis, exchange of experience, co-operation on training and investigation.
We are going to work to create conditions for the involvement of the BCOCC in structures such as the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security (JPCDS) and the Joint Permanent Commission on Cooperation (JPCC). Those are co-operative bi-national structures between our country and her neighbours in the region.
As part of its work in the region the BCOCC will establish a National Border Management Research Centre (NBMRC) which is intended to host seminars and workshops at national and regional level to facilitate common development of border management techniques across the region. We will commission a regional feasibility study into the possible roll-out of the Department of Home Affairs-HANIS system as well as the possibility of creating a Southern African Development Community (SADC) Fingerprint Databank. This will help in combating cross border crimes in the SADC region.
The focus of the intelligence services to date has been on building capacity and in so doing provide more effective intelligence support to government departments to implement successfully the programme of action.
A new vetting model, more effective training programmes and ensuring the proper handling of sensitive and valuable information, have been some of the key focus areas.
In 2007, almost 300 intelligence officers completed a newly designed Formative Training Programme for members of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and South African Police Service (SAPS) rendered invaluable training assistance.
Legislation to be tabled during the 2008 parliamentary programme includes the Protection of Information Bill and the National Strategic Intelligence and Intelligence Services Amendment Bills.
Protection of Information Bill
The Protection of Information Bill will put in place a framework for the protection of state information that will be grounded in the Constitutional principles of openness and transparency. In addition, the Bill aims to fill the existing legal gap in relation to threats faced by the state in the course of intelligence gathering by unauthorised entities where the security of the state may be undermined.
Of particular concern has been the extent to which some of the entities and individuals have attempted to undermine statutory national intelligence structures by disseminating false information. The draft Bill criminalises such conduct.
National Strategic Intelligence Amendment Bill
The Bill establishes the National Communications Centre (NCC) as the national signals intelligence capacity for the Republic of South Africa and authorises the Centre to collect and analyse signals in accordance with the national intelligence priorities adopted by Cabinet. It will strengthen controls and regulations relating to the interception of communication thus providing greater protection for the law abiding public.
Turnaround project (Home Affairs)
The first phase of the Turnaround Project under the Refugee Affairs Workstream has been completed since November 2007. An integrated plan on the refugee network infrastructure, capacity, processes and information systems has been developed.
Refugee and deportation system
The implementation of the new asylum and deportation integrated system has been deployed and will roll-out by end of March 2008.
South African Nationa Defence Force (SANDF) Military Skills Development (MSD) intake
The Department of Defence (DOD) rejuvenation process of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) through its Military Skills Development System (MSDS) is showing rapid growth and progress both in terms of human resources and equipment.
In his State of the Nation Address, the President announced that the SANDF Military Skills Development System intake would be increased to 10 000 recruits per financial year.
In this regard, government has already allocated R700 million to the Department of Defence to accelerate the programme.
The SANDF, since the establishment of the MSDS programme in 2003, has recruited and trained a total of 17 894 youth, equipping them with some of the scarce skills the country needs. Those include pilots, engineers and medical practitioners. To date 8 729 recruits have since joined the Regular Force. A total of 1 300 MSDS trainees were assisted by the department to secure employment elsewhere after completing two years of initial military training.
There are moves afoot to find ways of channelling some of the MSDS trainees into the formal labour market or into the various learnership programmes of the Department of Labour.
Issued by: Ministry for Safety and Security
19 February 2008