Govt committed to modernise, transform justice system

Monday, February 9, 2009

Parliament - Government is determined to deal with crime through the creation of a new modernised, efficient and transformed criminal justice system.

Speaking during a debate on the State of the Nation Address on Monday, Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa said all South Africans shared President Kgalema Motlanthe's concern about crime levels.

The President had said the scourge of crime remained a major source of insecurity among people.

"The government of our country is committed to the establishment of a new modernised, efficient, and transformed criminal justice system. This initiative will reduce drastically, the levels of crime and ensure the stamping out of corruption," said the minister.

The review entails the scrutiny of the performance along the whole value chain, including the functioning of the police, the judiciary, correctional services, with the aim of achieving enhanced levels of integration and coordination.

Special attention, Mr Mthethwa said, must be given to the fight against serious and violent crime, adding that organised crime and criminal syndicate activity were also of particular concern to his department.

The review of the criminal justice system has resulted in the absorption of the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) into the DPCI.

The minister assured South Africans that government would act speedily to establish the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) which will be replacing the Scorpions. The architecture of the unit is such that it takes on board the positive aspects of previous units while shedding off their weaknesses.

"The introduction to Parliament of amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act necessitating among others, the examination of issues relating to forensics and DNA databases is a positive step forward in the context of the revamping of the criminal justice system," Mr Mthethwa explained.

The scourge of violence against women and vulnerable members of society remains a blemish on South Africa's history, said Minister Mthwethwa. "As such, the capacity of the criminal justice system to combat violence and crimes against women and children will be increased.

"Together we will face crime squarely in the eyes, and destroy it. We will rid our society of rapists. There shall be no place to hide for those who abuse women and children.

The department has also embarked on a nationwide campaign to increase the capacity of the South African Police Service (SAPS) through recruitment, rigorous training and better remuneration.

"Steps are being taken to better equip and increase the capacity of detective services, forensics, prosecution and judicial services. In this regard training is earmarked to commence in earnest this year."

The minister thanked the President for presenting a well-balanced evaluation of the state of South Africa, adding that improved conditions of safety and security for people in South Africa would lead to an improved quality of life.