Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster update

August 1st, 2012

By Nomfundo Manyathi

The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Jeff Radebe, recently held a media briefing to provide progress on the various performance outputs of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster. The media briefing took place in Pretoria on 25 June 2012.

According to a media statement, the first output discussed was aimed at reducing serious crime, and contact crime (such as murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances) in particular. Minister Radebe said that during January to March 2012 serious crime had decreased by 0,5% compared to the same period last year.

Minister Radebe said that during 2011/12 the courts increased the number of finalised prosecutions for trio crime (such as armed house robbery and vehicle hijackings) by 232,1%, adding that a total of 1 777 cases comprising 2 152 trio counts were finalised, with a conviction rate of 85,8%.

Minister Radebe said that prosecutors dedicated to organised crime had finalised 192 trial cases, with a conviction rate of 89,1%. These cases included five racketeering convictions and 25 counts of money laundering.

Minister Radebe highlighted prosecutions by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in respect of environmental crimes in the past year. He said: ‘In 66 environmental cases prosecuted, seven sentences of direct imprisonment were handed down. The NPA participated in the multidisciplinary project to address the plundering of rhinoceroses. During the year, 24 cases were finalised with convictions in 20 cases involving 28 accused.’ The conviction rate was 83%, he said.

In terms of the second output, which deals with an effective criminal justice system and transformation of the justice system, Minister Radebe said that the JCPS was ‘encouraged’ by the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal in a case involving penalties for several offences in terms of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007. The case was Director of Public Prosecutions, Western Cape v Prins (SCA) (unreported case no 369/12, 15-6-12) (Wallis JA) (see p 8). The Minister added that the JCPS was confident that the reintroduction of family violence, child protection and sexual offences units in the police would ensure that these crimes were dealt with effectively.

Minister Radebe said that the approval of the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill (7 of 2010) by the National Assembly would also strengthen the fight against sexual offences and would assist in protecting vulnerable people, especially women and children.

In dealing with case management, Minister Radebe said that a highlight in the performance of the criminal justice system was the progress made in the past year in terms of reducing case backlogs. He said that a reduction from 37 034 to 34 926 backlog cases on all court rolls had been achieved by the end of the past quarter.

Regarding detainees, the Minister said that the average length of time in remand detention had been reduced from 150 days in 2009/10 to 96 days in 2011/12.

Minister Radebe said that cyber security was one of the JCPS cluster’s key priorities. He said that cabinet had approved the cyber security policy framework in March 2012, which addressed, among others –

  • national security threats in cyberspace;
  • combating cyber warfare, cyber crime and other cyber ills;
  • developing, reviewing and updating existing substantive and procedural laws to ensure alignment; and
  • building confidence and trust in the secure use of information and communication technologies.

Minister Radebe said that 155 cyber crime matters were finalised during the past financial year, adding that the majority of cases involved unlawful electronic fund transfer or fraud. He said that the conviction rate stood at 89%.

Nomfundo Manyathi, nomfundo@derebus.org.za

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2012 (Aug) DR 7.

De Rebus