R5.4bil allocated to beefing up criminal justice system

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Parliament - To improve the speed and efficiency of the criminal justice system, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel on Wednesday announced a R5.4 billion allocation for its overhaul.

Efforts to review the forensic and investigative capacity of the police are underway, and together with enhanced technologies, the fight against crime will receive a welcome boost, he said.

"A further R5.4 billion is allocated to interventions aimed at improving criminal justice services, the creation of an integrated fingerprint and DNA database, improving detective capacity, [and] upgrading IT and telecommunications systems," Mr Manuel announced to Parliament.

The funds will also go towards increasing the number of police officials from 183 000 last year to over 204 000 in 2011/12.

Funding is also provided for additional policing capacity during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for construction of new prisons and for the implementation of the Child Justice Bill.

During his State of the Nation Address, President Motlanthe said the scourge of crime remained a major source of insecurity for South Africans. "Daily experience, in poor and affluent neighbourhoods alike, is one of apprehension at the possibility of violent attack."

He further said while the overall crime rate, having peaked in 2002, had consistently declined, it has not been fast enough.

"The fact that incidents of violent robberies in households and businesses have been on the increase; and crimes against women and children have not abated in any significant measure, is a matter of great concern," he said.

He said South Africa's crime situation pointed to weaknesses in building the bonds of community solidarity, weaknesses in the criminal justice system, from investigation of crimes to rehabilitation of offenders as well as weaknesses in the efficiency of the court system, both in terms of technical and other infrastructure and management.