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169 Zondo Commission 'recommendations' still under investigation – Mashatile

Deputy President Paul Mashatile

Deputy President Paul Mashatile

27th February 2024

By: Sashnee Moodley

Senior Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

     

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The Integrated Task Force, set up by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks, is coordinating the implementation of 205 'recommendations' that came out of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.  

Of these, 36 recommendations have resulted in three convictions and 11 cases before the courts. The remaining 169 recommendations are still being investigated.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile was providing an update in his keynote address at the National Conference on the Integrated Criminal Justice System and Review of Criminal Procedure Act, in Johannesburg, on Tuesday.

The conference took place under the theme ‘Strengthening the criminal justice system to keep our people safe and secure’ and aimed to take stock of, and critically reflect on, the progress in the implementation of the Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) 7-Point Plan, targeted at promoting an integrated and modernised criminal justice system.

Addressing attendees, Mashatile acknowledged that confidence in South Africa’s criminal justice system was declining.

He said the system and democracy had been put to the test owing to corruption, criminality and gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF).

He noted that despite government’s strategies to combat crime, the scourge remained persistent. He also pointed to overburdened prosecution and judicial systems, overcrowded prisons and a beleaguered police system.

“Looking at these challenges, it is easy to grow despondent, but we must never be discouraged. Instead, we must double our efforts to reach our desired goal. The legal system in South Africa has undergone significant changes since the apartheid era, aiming to ensure fairness and equal opportunities for all citizens. Post-1994, changes include a National Crime Prevention Strategy, victim empowerment programmes, and a diversion programme for low-impact offenses under Pillar 1, to ensure a human rights culture. Recently, we replaced the 1996 National Crime Prevention Strategy with the Integrated Crime and Violence Prevention Strategy, approved in March 2022 by the Cabinet. This strategy focuses on preventing crime and violence through a 'whole of government’ and ‘whole of society’ approach,” Mashatile said.

Over the next few months, the JCPS will focus efforts on GBVF, corruption, creating an independent unit called the ‘Investigating Directorate against Corruption’ within the NPA, strengthening the Whistleblowers Act and revising the Criminal Procedure Act.

CONSTRUCTION MAFIAS AND UNLAWFUL ARRESTS

Mashtaile stressed the need to deal with crime in the construction sector, as it directly impacted the country’s economy.

He said the Economic Infrastructure Task Teams were dealing with non-ferrous metal theft, infrastructure crimes, and illegal mining activities.

He stressed the need to strengthen existing interventions to protect infrastructure relating to State-owned companies Eskom, Transnet, and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa.

“A concerted effort from all is necessary to unravel the complex web of construction site disruptions, which endangers lives and impedes the government's objective of transforming the nation into a massive construction site that generates employment and expands the economy,” he said.

Crime and corruption, he said, undermined not only the rule of law, but also human rights.

Further, unlawful arrests also impacted the fundamental rights of individuals and should be reduced, the Deputy President stated.

“…it is imperative to reduce the instances of unnecessary arrests that may lead to unlawful arrests and detention. Promoting alternative methods of ensuring a suspect's court attendance, such as summons and written notices, is crucial to reduce costly civil claims against the State and address pressing needs. Ensuring these methods are more accessible to police officials, and considering greater judicial oversight over arrest is also necessary to reduce unnecessary arrests. This will indeed help the strain on the fiscus and improve the overall justice system,” he explained.

GBVF AND BAIL DEVELOPMENTS

Life imprisonment sentences relating to GBVF at Thuthuzela Care Centres had seen a 27.9% increase during the 2022/23 financial year, he revealed.

The care centres are one-stop facilities that are part of South Africa’s anti-rape strategy, and aim to reduce secondary victimisation and to build a case ready for successful prosecution.

Further, National Assembly has approved the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Bill, which is currently under review by the National Council of Provinces.

“The government is responding swiftly to the GBVF epidemic by putting an emphasis on robust institutions and solid evidence. In late 2020, the Department of Justice introduced three amendment Bills including the Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Act 12 of 2021, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 13 of 2021, and the Domestic Violence Amendment Act 14 of 2021. The latter Act established an electronic repository for domestic violence protection orders, which became operational on April 14, 2023,” Mashatile pointed out.

He said these laws significantly changed the legislative framework for GBV, emphasising the need for an effective and efficient criminal justice system to fight GBVF.

Following public outcry, the Department of Justice and the South African Law Reform Commission are reviewing the process to strengthen bail laws to make it harder for people to be released on bail.

The review process aimed to ensure that victims’ needs were prioritised and also aimed to reduce overcrowding in prisons and detention centres, Mashatile said.

IMMIGRATION, REFUGEE PROTECTION

There is misalignment between the Citizenship Act, Immigration Act, and Refugees Act, the Deputy President admitted, and he noted the need to evaluate the laws and create new ones to deal with illegal immigration.

He said the recently approved Cabinet White Paper on Citizenship, Immigration, and Refugee Protection would set the framework for residency and citizenship approvals for foreign nationals, and for protecting the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, all while protecting South Africa’s national security.

Edited by David Shepherd
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