Amendment to Section 49 of Criminal Procedure Act on Track

Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster

Draft legislation amending section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act will be tabled before cabinet for approval within the next couple of weeks. The justice, crime prevention and security cluster provided an update on its programme of action at a media briefing in Cape Town.

The cluster has identified key outputs including addressing overall levels of crime, improving the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, managing the perception of crime, combating cyber-crime and securing the identity and status of citizens.

In terms of reducing levels of overall, contact and trio crimes, intelligence gathering will play an important role. The cluster will strive for enhanced police visibility. The efficiency of the criminal justice system will be advanced. Minister of justice and constitutional development, Jeff Radebe, reiterated that section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act would be amended. Draft legislation would shortly be placed before cabinet for approval. Consultation on the proposed amendment had been concluded.

The deputy-minister of police, Fikile Mbalula, added that government did not have a “shoot to kill” policy. He affirmed government’s stance on the matter. Police members had to uphold the law and use deadly force in a correct manner to defend themselves against ‘deadly criminals”.

Research had shown that the public’s perception of crime has increased in recent times despite a drop in actual contact crimes. Minister Radebe asserted that regular surveys would be conducted gauging public perception of crime.

The minister also added that implementation of the criminal justice review was going ahead. A seven-point plan was being implemented. A protocol governing the process had been drawn up in October 2009. Public prosecutors had also been instructed to spend as much time as possible in court processing cases.

The chief justice was busy employing measures to “modernise” the way courts conducted their affairs. The Superior Courts Bill was likely to be tabled in Parliament by July. The chief justice was busy finalising consultation with the heads of courts.

The minister also added that regulations governing the licensing of outlets selling liquor would be tightened up. Abuse of alcohol is viewed as a major contributing factor towards incidents of violent crime. The social crime prevention strategy would also be strengthened.

The cluster aims to increase the capacity of the detective services and forensic science laboratories. Further effort will also be directed at reducing the case backlog in regional courts.

Work will continue on anti-corruption measures. A community safety forum strategy will be developed during the year. The strategy will spell out what role the general public can play in fighting crime. It will also look at building partnerships between correctional services and civil society.

In terms of border management, a border management agency will be established in 2010. “This agency will improve the security of our borders and ports of entry and promote cooperation of security agencies in the region and meanwhile boosting the economic trade relations”. Four South African National Defence Force companies will be deployed on the Zimbabwe and Mozambique borders as from 1 April 2010.

Measures to secure the identity and status of South African citizens were outlined. Included in the list are steps to improve the integrity of passports and identity books, target identity theft offenders and review legislation directed at combating identity theft.

As regards cyber crime, reference was made to the draft cyber crime policy published in the Government Gazette in February.

Overcrowding in prisons will also receive close attention. A ministerial task team had been appointed to “conduct an audit of certain categories of offenders with the overall objective of alleviating overcrowding in our correctional facilities”. Backlogs in parole board hearings would be a priority.

The correctional services minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, declared that a policy on medical parole had been formulated. It would be published for public comment before the end of the financial year. At this stage the department was considering the route of regulations as opposed to legislation in the interests of speedy implementation.

Awaiting trial detainees will be released on bail of R1000 or less. Detainees will have to provide addresses to the department before release.

Sabinet Cape Town Office


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