Government is committed to fighting crime

Pretoria: Government is committed to eradicating corruption, says the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster.

"The government of South Africa remains steadfast in its commitment to eradicate corruption from all sectors of our society. We are keenly aware of how the cancer of corruption in both the private and public sector has a detrimental effect on government's effort to deliver services to the people," said Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said.

He was briefing the media on the work of the cluster in Pretoria on Sunday.

The fight against corruption has been prioritised by the cluster with a zero tolerance towards it having been adopted.

The Minister said South Africa is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption which enjoins all member states to "develop and implement or maintain effective, coordinated anti-corruption policies that promote the participation of society and reflect the principles of the rule of law".

South Africa, he said, has the necessary legislative and institutional frameworks to fight and defeat corruption.

Measures put in place to fight corruption include the drafting of the government's anti-corruption framework in harmony with international best practice and the promulgation of legislation to combat and prevent corrupt activities, to protect whistle-blowers, among others.

"All these instruments bear out our government's commitment to the attainment of our vision of a South Africa that is totally free of corruption. The scourge of corruption is, however, a societal issue that must be confronted head on by everyone."

Since 2013, success has been recorded in recovering losses sustained by the state as a consequence of corruption to the value of some R1.8 billion.

Courts

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice has commenced with the rollout of the rationalisation of magisterial districts which commenced on 1 December 2014 in respect of the Gauteng and North West provinces.

Implementation in respect of the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces is scheduled to commence at the end of December 2015. The rollout to other outstanding provinces is scheduled for completion by the end of the 2016/17 financial year.

In addition, the lower courts performed well by finalising during quarters one and two of 2015/16, 248 487 criminal court cases.

"Compared to the previous year, the high courts finalised 33 more cases (241 cases against the previous 208). The 2015/16 quarter one and two performance reports from the National Prosecuting Authority indicate that high conviction rates were maintained by all courts and the set targets were significantly exceeded," said the Minister.

Conviction rates in all courts improved compared to last year.

The high courts achieved a 89.9% conviction rate against the target of 87%. Regional courts achieved a 77.7% conviction rate against the target of 74% and the district court achieved a 94.3% against a target of 88%.

Reduced number of escapes

The Department of Correctional Services managed to reduce the number of escapes from correctional centres across the country.

"Forty nine escapes were reported last year (2014/15), compared to 60 the previous year (2013/14), and the majority of these escapees are back behind bars. This represents a continued decline, from as high as 1244 escapes per year in 1995," said the Minister.

He said, however, there are still challenges in terms of overcrowding and gang activities among others.

The department is leaving nothing to chance when coming to security at the country's 243 correctional centres during the holiday period. "We are making a concerted effort to ensure a safer festive season," Minister Nhleko said.

Securing borders

Key challenges facing border management in the country involve human movement, transnational organised crime and criminal activities, among others.

"Cabinet has approved the introduction of the Border Management Agency (BMA) Bill, 2015 into Parliament. The Bill aims to establish the BMA, which will be a single agency that will assume full control of Port of Entry and Borderline functions.

Once operationalised, the BMA will assume operational responsibility for all ports of entry around the country."

The cluster also reaffirmed that South Africa continues to remain open to welcome migrants who come into the country lawfully.

The cluster called on all people and all sectors in the country to work with law enforcement agencies to fight crime.

SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICAL NEWS

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