Transcript copy: Media briefing by Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster


Panel: Minister Jeff Radebe, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development; Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula,Department on Correctional Service; Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Department of Police; Deputy Minister Andries Nel, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

Statement by Minister Jeff Radebe

Questions and answers

Journalist: I was wondering whether the Minister can elaborate a bit on the different components of the rural safety plan and sort of when it will be implemented. What are the biggest challenges around securing safety on the rural areas and would the Minister say that rural areas have been neglected in terms of safety?

Journalist: There a literary tens of thousands of trio crimes every year. You say 239 convictions resulted, could you somehow explain to me how that comes to an 86%, a staggering 86% conviction rate? Both the National Commissioner of Police and as reported today the National Director of Public Prosecutions has pronounced on the guilt of Mr Shrien Dewani. Could you please comment on what you will do if indeed his is used to refuse extradition?

Journalist: Clarification perhaps on details on this Medial Parole Policy and the Cyber Security Policy. But perhaps more importantly given the increase in detectives hired here has been somewhat of a silence regarding the forensic laboratories. Could you perhaps indicate what is being done there? We have recently heard that there are backlogs of between 6 to 10 years in various provinces on that front.

Minister Jeff Radebe: The questions on safety plans and rural areas, trio crimes the Minister of Police will address them. The issue on the medical parole the Minister of Correctional Services will address them. The issue of forensic laboratories and the backlogs, the Deputy Minister of Justice will address them.

So let me address the story about the National Commissioner and the NDPP on the Dewani matter. Let me rephrase my remarks by saying that we are a constitutional democracy in South Africa and I want to repeat once again that Mr Dewani is going to receive a fair trial in the Republic of South Africa.

He has the right like any other citizen that is protected and enshrined in our constitution. He has the right to remain silent; he has the right to use evidence to challenge any evidence that will be put before him. Our judiciary is independent and subject to the constitution and the law. Whoever says anything outside the court process is totally irrelevant, presiding officers, being magistrates or judges, they uphold the rule of law and they take decision on the basis what has been put in front of them.

So Mr Dewani has not worry at all, everybody talks about this Dewani case. Mr Dewani himself through his lawyers, through his spin doctor Mr Max Clifford, anybody makes comments on any matters but the point of the matter is that our judges, our magistrates they can never take decisions based on something that is outside the court process. That is what I want to emphasise. Let’s wait until the UK process has been completed. We have made out extradition request to the UK Authorities, they will decide on that matter so that Mr Dewani should he be extradited to South Africa he must face justice like any her person who has been charged by our processes.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa: The plan has been rolled out as part of visible policing. The Rural Safety Plan started to be rolled out last year and as such we are engaging road shows for different provinces, we started in Gauteng. Our next stop is KwaZulu-Natal ad we will be covering all the provinces just to highlight this point. The challenges in this area has been by enlarged a legacy that when it comes to policing in these areas including resources, like police stations have not been rolled out hence as part of this plan of the police for the next five years.

The aim is to build at least 103 police stations throughout the country and the major target here is the rural areas. When we talk of rural areas, we look at this broadly, it includes the farms, and it includes the areas like villages and so on. So it won’t be sectarian or covering portions of these areas but it will cover all the areas as it were. The trio crimes, perhaps as we have noticed when we issued the 2009/10 crime statistics, that we are making inroads in the fight against crime here. And as we said we base our fight particularly on two pillars and that is to fight crime tough and smart at the same time.

Smartly here to ensure that the conviction rate is improved, that is why the emphasis is on the detectives, that is why the turnaround within the forensics environment. As the point has been raised and the question has been asked about forensics a lot is going on there starting from how this area has been managed to a number of areas in strengthening and ensuring that we deal with the backlogs which has seen in the past three months in particular and improvement in this area. And we believe that such improvement has to continue.

We would still have challenges for instance part of the backlog would be dealing by enlarge by drugs especially in the Western Cape. Now we devised means that our laboratories outside of Western Cape in Gauteng and also Kwazulu-Natal will also assist the backlogs there. The backlogs are very simple there they relate to the kind of drugs which are used there and which are mostly tablets. We take a lot of work from the laboratories because each and every tablet coming from that area has to be X amount. So I think going forward we will be seeing more emphasises on the smart fighting of crime.

Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula: Colleagues on medical parole. I think all of us are aware of the challenges that we have had over the past few years where people have challenged some of the decision we have taken with regards to medical parole for some of our inmates. So we took a decision to then look at the law and see where we could amend the law such that there would be a better appreciation of what we mean by allowing a person to go out on medical parole.

Of cause that amendment seeks to strike a healthy balance between the rights of a sick inmate but also the safety of South Africans. One of the things that we have done which we are asserting in that piece of Legislation is to appoint a panel of independent doctors to conduct oversight over our own parole processes in the event a decision is taken to grant an inmate medical parole. But you will also recall that in our Legislation as it stands talks to terminally ill inmates and there has been tendency out there in our communities to believe that once it is said terminally ill therefore you are bound to die in the next few months, in the next few days.

We have corrected that we are taking to people who are acutely sick with chronic diseases and people who are totally unable to do things, totally incapacitated. Who at the end because a liability to the State because of the resources that we use but also the fact that they are able to do things for themselves and even your programs of rehabilitation do not work. Of cause we have to be convened as well that the inmate will not be able to commit a crime again. So we are putting in place measures that will ensure that the decisions that we take with regards to medical parole are decisions which can stand up to scrutiny by the South African public.

Deputy Minister Andries Nel: Thank you very much I think firstly the question relating to the Cyber Security Policy, I think we all recognise that in today’s world living in an information age where so much of our communication, our economy our virtual lives rest upon security of our information networks, that this is a very important area an indeed that it is treated as one of the priority areas by the cluster. The Draft Cyber Security Policy was released at the beginning of last year by the Department of Communications.

It was released for public comment those comments have been received and the policy is being refined in line with those comments. The matter is now with the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster and we hope that in the very new future we will be finalising that policy.

The policy that seeks to ensure that all organs of state as well as the private sector can cooperate in a very structured way to ensure the security of our information networks. Secondly with regard to the medical laboratories, I think the Minister of Police has already started answering that question. It is again one of the areas that are being prioritised especially in the context of the output dealing with the creation of an integrated modern and efficient criminal justice system.

We have been cooperating very closely with the Department of Health to address the backlogs that exist there, unfortunately I am not able off the top of my head to give the figures but there is certainly figures that we would be able to provide very quickly indicating that the tide has been turned that indeed the backlogs in many of those laboratories has started coming down obviously not as much as we would want to but it remains a priority area. Thank you.

Jimmy Manyi: Thank you Ministers I think just one question that spoke to the 86% as to how the Minister arrived at that. If you look at the number that the Minister was quoting here that out of the total of 276 we had convictions of about 239 so if you do the maths there you will see that 239 over 276 will give you the 86%. So the Minister does understand his mathematics.

Journalist: What about the thousands of other cases that were not enrolled in court that simply disappeared.

Jimmy Manyi: Okay we note that. Any other follow up questions in Cape Town?

Journalist: Minister in addressing the Dewani case you say should he be successfully extradited to the country. Is there any doubt in your mind that this will not be and if so what will that reason be?

Journalist: The Minister talked about 100 people that need to be arrested by 2014. Could he tell us whether those people are involved in white collar crime or your armed robberies and whether they are part of syndicates and if some of them are in the public sector? Another question goes to the Minister of Correctional Services. I wanted to find out how far are we with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the category of prisoners. Thanks.

Journalist: You say a 119 police officers were dismissed for fraud and corruption but the Auditor General said there were 362 investigations into fraud and corruption by police officers and that over 4 100 police had been called to disciplinary hearings for misconduct. So what has happened for the rest of the cases? Another quick question to Minister Mthethwa. I would like to know what has happened to the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) report into alleged Free State Police corruption. The report that was given to you in July 2010, the ICD said three months ago that they would not release this final report to the public until it had been processed by you. So when will that be released. Thanks.

Journalist: For the Deputy Minister of Justice the Cyber Crime Policy is also very closely related to the Protection of Personal Information Bill and that Bill has been progressed for about more than two years from what I understand. Can you give us an update on that Bill please?

Minister Jeff Radebe: Members of the Police Service being dismissed, Minister Mthethwa will answer that question. ICD again Minister Mthethwa and cyber crime, Deputy Minister. Back to Dewani, the only reason that we have filed an application for extraditing Minister Dewani is because we believe that he has a case to answer.

So I have no doubt in my mind that we have a good case and Mr Dewani has to answer it but we can’t pre-empt what is going to happen in the UK it is another country it is another jurisdiction they’ve got their own way of doing things but we are confident that Mr Dewani will be extradited to South Africa but I am cautioning let’s wait until the outcome of that due process in the UK so that he must meet his justice in our country.

On the question about 100 people who have to be arrested by 2014 and convicted we are dealing here with people who leave illicitly who have got ill-gotten games. We are dealing here with people who are being pursued by the Asset Forfeiture Unit that are involved in these high collar crimes in our country so that the scourge of crime must be dealt with so that however even thinks of involving in crime must know that they will never benefit out of their ill-gotten games.

Already as I have said about 19 people in our courts who are facing various charges and we have almost half a billion rand worth of assets that have been restrained by the National Prosecuting Authority in our drive to make sure that crime does not pay. We have always repeatedly said that it doesn’t care whether a person is in the public sector in the private sector wherever or whomever, so long as this corruption raise its ugly head as a Government we will pursue them so that people should never ever think of living in a grand style out of the proceeds of crime.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa: There are many Police who would be involved or engaging or find themselves on the wrong side of the law. You talk about 4 000 the 119 we spoke of where Police who were dismissed in 2010. By the end of the financial year that 119 might be more but if you want to know what happened to each and every Police who got to be confronted through disciplinary processes or criminal cases the breakdown can be done what is important for us is that we emphasised on those where there are no cases.

There are a lot of things others get warnings, others get final warnings so it is a whole pack, I can’t just unpack now you talk about 4 000 may be more than 4 000 others remain allegations and they are not proven and so on. I think what we are highlighting are those we have done away with in the force. The question about Free State allegations it is correct it remained allegations and there were nothing tangible out of that. Thank you very much.

Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula: On the Ministerial Task Team that was assigned to conduct various audit of various categories of vulnerable inmates that work has been completed the report was presented to us in January in a small team of Ministers consisting of myself, the Deputy Minister of Justice and the Deputy Minister of Police. That report now is on its way to the cluster where we will engage on the findings and the recommendations made in that report which will then be presented to Cabinet and to the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services. I also need to indicate that the report will be made public the findings actually confirm some of the impressions and views that we have been holding about what is happening at our correctional facilities. So you will have access to the report at the appropriate time. Thank you very much.

Deputy Minister Andries Nel: Just to return to the Cyber Security Policy, I believe that the matter has been set on the agenda of the cluster DG’s for 1 March to look at the revised policy document incorporating the comments that have been received and thereafter it will go to the Ministerial Cluster and then hopefully to Cabinet and Parliament.

With regard to the Protection of Personal Information Bill this Bill emanated from a very thorough study by the South African Law Reform Commission, it was given to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development in the middle of 2009 in a very short time after receiving that report I think in August of 2009 the Minister took the Bill to Cabinet and it was introduced to Parliament where it is being processed at the moment. I believe the Portfolio Committee has held a number of hearings the most recent hearings were last week with the South African National Editors Forum. We hope that Parliament will be moving to completion of that Bill in the very near future. Thank you.

Jimmy Manyi: The cases that we talk about here are cases that have been reported and enrolled that is what the statistics are based on which indicates the high calibre of investigations that have been conducted and the evidence presented in court. This is what we are talking about but just to carry on again in Cape Town and this is the last round of questions and people must not feel that we are not giving more opportunities because we still have a lot more time to do this. We still have the budget votes coming and most of what is being said here will also be backed up by can we afford it. All of these big plans that we are talking about so there will be another opportunity for the media to delve
deeper into the detail where the money will also be spoken about. Back to Cape Town.

Journalist: In the case of the French couple that died in Sutherland in the Karoo. It took the Police some three weeks to come up with their explanation that it was an assisted suicide and an attempted suicide and then the French man started shooting at Police and that is why they shot him. Could you explain to us why it took three weeks for such a simple matter? Surely the Police would have known that on day one or two? Secondly is the Independent Complaints Directorate still investigating and when do you expect it to complete its work.

Journalist: Minister of Justice, just quickly the Supreme Courts Bill has been approved by Cabinet when will it be introduced in Parliament. Then secondly with the Shrien Dewani matter as political head of the Department of Justice, do you not think that the head of the National Prosecuting Authority should refrain from pronouncing on cases which has not been trialled in this country. Thank you.

Journalist: Just to ducktail on Peter’s question, Minister please how appropriate do you think it is for the National Commissioner to make any comments on a case such as this or any other case. Thank you.

Journalist: Minister Mthethwa just a follow up on the Free State allegations of corruption issue. The ICD did investigate and they came up with a report that found that crime stats had been manipulated and that people had claimed back monies for trips that were not related to police business. So how is it possible that nothing tangible came out of that, that was their report into the investigation and they did recommend action. So what happened between the time they came up with that report and between now for you to say that there was nothing tangible out of that. Thanks.

Journalist: A follow up on the 100 people that you want to prosecute by 2014. What are the kinds of criteria that you’ve picked this people out of anyone else that you could have picked apart from the R5 million illicit gains which you mentioned in your briefing? How would you respond to possible reaction saying that you are picking on people because you don’t like them? From the 19 cases already before Court could you give us a couple of examples on how these 19 fit into the 100? Thank you.

Minister Jeff Radebe: Again Minister Mthethwa will deal with the Free State it looks like people love Free State, they love the Dewani case. Let me reiterate. We have a constitutional democracy in our country with an independent judiciary. Each case is decided on its own merits whoever says anything about the case, whether it is General Cele, Advocate Simelane, Max Clifford or the representative is neither here or there. What is guaranteed in our constitution is a right to a free trial, Mr Dewani can even challenge any other evidence that will be adduced against him. The National Prosecuting Authority is charged with the possibility of prosecuting cases. I think the press should not read too much in the newspapers allegedly being said by the National Director.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) still has to proof the case against Mr Dewani in terms of our criminal procedure in South Africa beyond a reasonable doubt. So I have never heard Mr Simelane pronouncing or prejudging the case against Mr Dewani in fact the NPA is one of those that are part of the process of extraditing him with the purpose of prosecuting Mr Dewani. Once again Mr Dewani will be assured of a free trial like any other citizen he can challenge any evidence that is put before him he can even chose to remain silent that’s what our constitution says. This is the constitution which indicates that any act or conduct that is inconsistent with our constitution is invalid those rights pertain to Mr Dewani or any other resident who finds himself in South Africa and meeting our justice system. So I thought I needed to finalise that.

On the Superior Courts Bill, Cabinet has approved both the Superior Courts Bill and the Constitution Amendment and these as I have said we are going to be presenting it to Parliament this week. On the issue of the criteria, as I have stated before the criteria is basically to serve as a deterrent that people who live on illicit means must never enjoy the proceeds of crime that is the main criteria and the minimum of R5 million so that we target all these high flyers who think they can take our country for a ride. If you look for example in some of the cases where financial resources belonging to the people of South Africa are being defrauded.

We should be outraged at such conduct from whoever is involved that is the criteria so that we can be able to ensure as I’ve said that crime does not pay. There is no one whose being picked up by the police because we don’t like them in fact many of these people are not even known, whether they are known or not is neither here nor there.

The point of the matter is that when there is crime that is being committed it has to be pursued whether big or small so the issue of targeting this R5 million as I’ve said we’ve got specialised agencies in South Africa called Asset Forfeiture Unit it can’t in a ratio of 80/20 deal with small matters. It has to deal with people who bring our country into disrepute so we need to ensure that all those the criminal activity syndicates are being brought to an end that is why we have to target many of these people who have been proven that they are in the process of committing crime so that’s the answer that I can give there. So I think which remains is Minister Mthethwa on the French people in Karoo and the Free State ICD.

Minister Nathi Mthethwa: I don’t think that there is a different response which was awaited on the matter concerning Mr Dewani. The Minister of Justice has answered that. On the French couple you would recall that immediately on day one there was a communication to the public that there was a shooting coming from the couple’s side that was said from day one. But over and above that there had to be investigation that is the three weeks you are talking about because it had to be investigation but from day one it was said that there was shooting from that side.

On the issue of Free State and the ICD you would recall that firstly how ICD works that after investigation they have to take the matter to the police and make their recommendations there which they did and in turn they will give this to the Minister as the law stands before the amendment which is in the pipeline as we speak. When the matter of Free State came there was far reaching serious allegations not only the manipulation of the statistics which manipulation was referred back to the police to investigate.

You would get an update in as far as that is concerned but I am saying that fundamentally what had been raised to have been taking place, criminal activities involving senior officials in Free State came to naught and that is the point I was making. In terms of what happened with the manipulation of statistics you would recall in Cape Town, Lansdowne, in KwaZulu-Natal, Mountain Rise, processes were followed to investigate that allegation and here I don’t see no difference in so far as that is concerned. What we may want to do is the update on where the process is but which is different than what was raised with ICD and with the police earlier on about what is happening in Free State, thank you.

Journalist: My question is regarding output eight , you talk about the technology and the modernisation programme that is being implemented if you could just briefly elaborate on what exactly that entails and combined with that, I am not a political reporter so I do court reporting quite often. Will you be looking at the state of our courts; I see the appointment of new magistrates and judges. The lights don’t work, the roof leaks, the doors have holes in it and there is no air-conditioning. These people work under terrible conditions, if you could just comment on what the department or the cluster is going to do to improve that.

Minister Jeff Radebe: On this issue of infrastructure, I think people should be aware not everything is within the power and jurisdiction of this cluster for example the issue of infrastructure, the buildings of correctional facilities, home affairs, our courts and so on is not done by departments themselves they are done through the Department of Public Works. So I think your question must be directed to the Department of Public Works but we as a cluster we always try to ensure that all our needs are provided to them so that they can move with speed in order to correct these things.

In January this year I myself went to the Randburg Magistrate’s Court to see the damage that has been done by the lightning that took place in November of last year. I do know now there is movement you know to ensure that we repair all those that has been damaged. So on the last issue of the ICT, our aim as a cluster is that we need to use this technology in order to co-ordinate our work more effectively and efficiently so that the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) Programme in the Department of Home Affairs must be able to speak with the processes that are happening in third party services.

The issue of fingerprints must be made available to police service so that all that information must be integrated so that when Police do their investigation if for example a criminal is caught in Soweto there must be an integration of our systems that will be able to inform the police when a person is being charged in Orlando Police Station that this person has already been charged in Atteridgeville. So all those modern forms of working e-docketing, so that a docket should not disappear, these are the things that we want to ensure that they are done in a much professional manner.

The video remand system with the Department of Correctional Services for example is one area where there are many centres where we don’t have to take prisoners from Pollsmore Prison to a Khayleitsha Regional Court when you can easily do a remand through a video conferencing while the prisoners are still in jail. So these are the type of things that we are talking about the integration of the whole information and communication technology (ICT) within the cluster so that we can be able to do our work much better and much more effectively.

Deputy Minister Andries Nel: In terms of the forensic science laboratories the backlog has been decreased from the 2008/09 financial year to the 2009/10 financial year by 14%. On 1 April 2009 the forensic science laboratories had 59 023 cases in arrears at the end of March 2010 the number of cases in arrears was reduced to 47 660 it is a reduction of 12.25%. During 2010 that trend continued and the latest statistics indicate that the number of cases in arrears at 30 November 2010, stood at 25 604 i.e. a further reduction of 46%. Now 25 000 is still 25 000 to many but I think it is an indication that some progress is being made in that area. Thanks.

Jimmy Manyi: Thank you very much Ministers, all questions that you want to ask please understand the various departments are always willing and ready to answer those questions and if for whatever reason you are not getting any joy please let me know. My email is a simple one, [email protected], I will make sure that all your questions are responded to. Just a small announcement on Tuesday at 09h00 here at the Union Buildings we will be doing the post Cabinet briefing and we will also have a link to Cape Town. This concludes the business of today.

Issued by: Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
20 Feb 2011