Transcript: Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster briefing

Transcript: Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster briefing

Chairperson: Harold Maloka

Panel:
Minister for Safety and Security Charles Nqakula
Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development Brigitte Mabandla
Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development Johnny de Lange
Study for Violence and Reconciliation Senior Researcher David Bruce

Date: 25 August 2008
Venue: Room 153, Union Buildings, Pretoria.

Harold Maloka: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Let me apologise for the delay that we have, but we are now ready to start. The document will be with your shortly, Cape Town and Pretoria. So the Minister will speak to the document and then we will have questions that are going to be taken. At the same time we are also going to have another briefing that will be done immediately after the Minister's briefing, and then we'll be taking collective questions on the basis of that.

Let me firstly introduce the Minister of Safety and Security in his capacity as the chairperson of the JCPS cluster. And then he's also with Minister Mabandla from the Department of Justice, together with Deputy Minister De Lange also from the Department of Justice.

Minister Charles Nqakula: Well, thank you very much. Firstly just to say that the copy you are going to get is unedited, but you do that every day as journalists, you will produce copy under tremendous pressure, and you know that there are others who are going to edit for you, you know? I'm sure that is what is happening. It used to happen in my time, we didn't bother so much about trying to be nice with our copies and [unclear]. Now this is unedited, so when you get it you will understand what we mean. Now I'm going to try and indicate to you what we mean with all of these matters. So what are we doing today?

We are simply sharing with you a report that was submitted to the recent Cabinet Lekgotla dealing with various issues where decisions were taken. That is what we are doing today. Many of the matters will be familiar to you. Because at the first media interaction following the January Lekgotla we flagged matters that had become part and parcel of our strategic discussions, and we indicated that at the July Lekgotla we would then be giving a report with respect to how we would implemented those decisions. Now at the Lekgotla therefore we looked at the following matters. Firstly, the review of the criminal justice system; the matter of serious and violent crime which is a big problem in South Africa; the detention and rehabilitation of offenders; issues relating to migration and the protection of major events.

The first one of course I want to talk about is the review of the criminal justice system. We will interact with you today on that particular issue because to us it is the most important project that we have ever undertaken. That is a project that has spanned quite a number of years. And in recent times working with various stakeholders, including big business we put together a strategy to deal with the overhaul, complete overhaul, of the criminal justice system. Of course we have an expert on that matter; we're talking to [unclear] to undergo special training in order for him to lead this process of the review of the criminal justice system, the Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development (De Lange). And of course he is with his Minister (Mabandla) here and both of them constitute our battering ram with respect to this matter, because it is the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development that is leading this process.

He, Mr Johnny de Lange, has interacted with the media for quite a while in recent times on this particular matter. Of course still he'll be available and we also, as part of the cluster, we'll be available to deal with whatever questions that will be raised here. So in terms of what I'm saying as the initial input, I'm not going to go into the detail of this matter just to re-emphasise the fact that it is so important to us, because it is going to unlock many other things that relate to the integrated criminal justice system.

And if we get this right, it is going to help us drastically to reduce crime in South Africa, we'll be able to deal with all matters rather than to adjudication in the shortest space possible. And of course even our programme of rehabilitation is going to benefit from the revamped criminal justice system. It should be remembered that one of the big problems we have relates to people who are repeat offenders. Many of those we arrest for serious and violent crime have been before our courts in the past, and quite a number of them have actually served time in our correctional facilities.

But on leaving those facilities in spite of the fact that some of them undergo rehabilitation, intensive at times, they go back into society and commit some of the crimes for which they were put away in the first instance. We talked at Cabinet about crime reduction. You will be aware that there is a particular target we are trying to achieve relevant to that matter. We want on an annual basis to reduce serious and violent crime by seven to ten percent. We've not been able to achieve that overall, but there are stations in the country where the reduction has even been more than 10%. But overall we were only able to achieve a 6,4% reduction. But that 6,4 is better than the situation has been over many years since government in 2004 adopted this strategy.

The number of serious and violent crimes of course bothers us as government. It bothers us because there are many people who are still victims of that kind of crime. And therefore as South Africa we see many people died every year. But of course we have done surveys, others, independent entities and organisations have also done surveys, and those surveys point to the fact that most of those crimes are committed by people who are known to the victims. They are relatives, family friends or acquaintances.

In 70 to 80% of cases therefore that is the situation and in the main it relates to murder, attempted murder, rape, and serious and violent assault. When we look into those categories of crime and do this broad survey it indicates that it is between people who know one another. And at the best of times therefore the response by the law enforcement agencies is reactive. Of course, we do put police for visibility in various sectors that we have established. But still that police officer we have said in the past who is patrolling in a given street will not know what happens behind closed doors in that particular street.

They [unclear] even know that the young girl child who is being led by hand by this man, knowing the man, is still going to her slaughter. The police will not know that. Otherwise they will be stopping every person who has a child by the hand, and believe that they are potential murderers or rapists. It's a very, very difficult area of work to do it in terms of conventional police methods.

But of course it is a matter that we want to deal with, particularly because of the statistics that the 2007/08 police report is indicating. For instance, there were 17 361 murders and attempted murders. Now that figure is not the overall figure for murder in South Africa, but these are people who were either murdered or there was an attempt to murder them, that figure. But it relates to the social crime that I'm referring to. And there were 17 554 rapes and attempted rape cases. But the serious and violent assault of people and common assault saw 136 996 cases, and of those cases of course serious and violent assault was 91 509 whereas common assault was 45 487.

More than one million and two hundred perpetrators were arrested for priority crimes that covers the period, 2007/08, more than a million were arrested. 508 387 were arrested in terms of priority crimes. These serious and violent crimes, including of course armed robberies, were where firearms are used. And of course the other crimes were 766 215.

But we raised the matter at Cabinet also, which is a big problem, I'll say for purposes of our situation here for South Africa. But this kind of problem is also global, where children are involved in the perpetration of violent acts, against peers, in other words the youth against teachers, those who are at school, and other members of society. We have that kind of situation in South Africa which has been brought into very, very vivid relief by the recent murder that happened at the Nic Diederichs School (Krugersdorp), children who are involved in violence. And by the end of May this year there were 3 478 children in detention in the various centres across the country. The figure of course includes those children who are awaiting trial, and those who have already been sentenced. Those who are awaiting trial are kept at the Social Development safe and secure centres, as well of course as those who are kept in the correctional facilities as awaiting trial children. In our Department of Social Development places of safety we have 1 669 such children, and at the Correctional Services facilities 820. Now those who have been sentenced and kept at the correctional facilities, the detention centres, are 889.

And the top six crimes that these children are committing are murder, rape, serious and violent assault, robbery aggravated, in other words, robbery where violence is used, housebreaking and theft. By the end of May there were 80 children in detention including five girls who are serving sentences for murder. Where there're 115 boys serving sentences for rape. But there are 130 other children awaiting trial who face charges of murder, four of those are girls. And there are 178 boys who face charges of rape.

The Lekgotla therefore, discussing this matter, decided that we need to put in more resources into our Moral Regeneration Project, to try and deal with that situation. Of course we will be able to go so far and not beyond the point where we actually must deal with the character of the children that we are bringing up. That responsibility resorts with parents. It is important for parents to take a lead in terms of the upbringing of their children.

So what we want to do is use these additional resources for our moral regeneration programme, to mobilise society, particularly parents, so that they can deal with this particular matter and instil in our children good, clean moral scruples, and therefore lead them away from this type of violent crime. Of course at the centre of this is substance abuse, particularly drugs and alcohol and drugs mostly in the case of these children.

We have established an interdepartmental team to handle issues that relate to overcrowding in our correctional facilities, and some of the things we have done among others to move children away from correctional facilities into secure places of safety, has to do with this project for us to move these children away from correctional services detention centres.

During the past financial year there were 93 869 people awaiting trial. There are 11 remand detention facilities which have been established at Pollsmoor, Grootvlei, Pietermaritzburg, Durban Medium A, St Albans, Pretoria Local, Johannesburg Medium A, Potchefstroom, Mthatha Medium, Modderbee and Boksburg.

The other matter that has become a problem for South Africa is border control and to what extent our law enforcement agencies are able to deal with that particular matter. Therefore an instruction was given to them to come together, sit, do a re-evaluation and an assessment of what they have been able to do to date, and where weaknesses are glaring, in order for them to be able to deal with those matters that militate against effective control measures.

It was decided at a meeting that was held between the South African National Defence [Force] and the South African Police Service that a new strategy needs to be embraced, which as a tactic must insist on the utilisation of more advanced high technology instruments. And to that extent therefore what is going to happen is that we are… we have acquired a new satellite system which will cover therefore the border line as well as our air and maritime space.

We are going to be deploying our helicopters in greater numbers to fly over more hours as well as our fixed wing, to ensure that they will assist with surveillance of the border, as I've indicated, our air space as well as our maritime space. And those aircraft will be beaming intelligence to stations that have been designed for that purpose. There are already observation posts where we have put some people to watch what is happening on the border line, and of course the conventional patrols, which will be done by well trained people, and those patrols of course are also going to be assisted by air surveillance.

We are also looking at South Africa's radar picture, which must assist us to detect anything that comes into our air space. Of course without giving details regarding this, already we are doing that, which is helping us particularly with respect to organised crime to deal with some of these matters.

The other problem that we have in South Africa which is course not unique to us, is the matter of urbanisation, which involves both cross-border as well as internal migration. Now both cross-border migrants as well as internal migrants in South Africa have gone into informal settlements. Now we have just about 3 000 informal settlements in South Africa.

And most of them are in Gauteng, which has 639, KwaZulu-Natal 618, and Eastern Cape with 416. Now those informal settlements as you know are a nightmare for law enforcement, and many of the people who commit crime run into those informal settlements which don't have lighting at the best of times, street lighting, they don't have reference points, the roads are not properly laid out. And there are other difficulties that relate to law enforcement, in some areas it's even difficult for the law enforcement forces to actually travel into those areas.

Government took a decision a while back to eliminate informal settlements by 2014. We are still working to that programme, to create an environment where our people will have habitable places of abode. Connected to this matter of urbanisation and migration is of course what happened here recently, the attacks on foreign nationals as well as some South Africans which left 62 people dead. We have a programme and I want to explain this programme, because it does not originate with government, government is simply creating the conditions for it to work.

A programme of reintegration which was started by the people from which foreign nationals were displaced. The first place where it happened was Masiphumelele in the Western Cape, where, after people had been chased out of the communities, people on their own held a meeting, mobilised, and were able to get those who had been displaced back into their areas. That was used as an example of how therefore we could deal with that particular matter.

And in many places in South Africa this has been happening. It's not government that is imposing reintegration on the people. It is rather our own people where they live who have been mobilising those who were displaced to go back. And out of almost 40 000 people who at the peak of this problem were displaced, we now have just over 6 000 people who are still at the temporary shelters. There is in the Western Cape 3 400 of them, while Gauteng has 2 606 who are still at the temporary shelters. The biggest number in Gauteng of course is 1 580 people who are at the temporary shelter near the Rand Airport.

But it is common cause that there is now a court judgement from the Constitutional Court that in Gauteng the temporary shelters can be pulled down by the end of September, which we are going to do. We did indicate that we had arrested quite a number of people who we believe were involved in the murders, attempted murder and destruction of property as well as intimidation relevant to that outbreak of violence. And therefore 1 446 people were arrested, and will be tried in 421 cases. Now those cases are at various levels within our adjudication process.

Unfortunately it's a dynamic thing, some of them appear to be admitted to [unclear] or appear today and their cases are heard and so on, so I don't have a figure at this time with regards to that.

But the matter of cross-border migration is a big issue that even the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is dealing with. But part of the things that SADC is doing which served at their recent meeting in Durban in July has to do with what is called the protocol on the facilitation of movement of persons. What that means is that SADC took a decision to open up our borders in the same way that for instance the European Union does, and in Europe as you know your Schengen visa allows you to enter one point in Europe and you'll be able to move around all of Europe without again being asked to produce your papers, produce that visa. Now SADC took a decision a while back, in 1998, that decision taken by 13 member states relating to the adoption of this particular project. But those who met were principally people who are involved in tourism, in other words the ministers of tourism in the region. And they agreed on this visa, it's called UNIVISA for the time being, which will facilitate movement across SADC. The protocol is not yet in force, because only nine member states have signed it. We are among those member states. It was decided that there needed to be better consultation on the matter, there needed to be a discussion involving the ministers of security across the region, which did not happen. As I say, only ministers of tourism were involved in this, and there is going to be a meeting soon in South Africa which is going to discuss this particular matter.

The last point I want to raise relates to the work that we still need to do, because apart from ordinary law enforcement that deals with crime in South Africa, we are called upon right at the birth of our democracy to host as a country several important events. You will recall I am sure that the very first event that we held, which was the Commonwealth Heads of State summit in Durban, and from that moment on we have been asked as a country to host those events, and hosting those events also implies that we need to have very, very good programmes in place to secure those events. We've already secured the Rugby World Cup, which we did in 1995. In 1996 the Africa Cup of Nations, thereafter it was the African Games. In 2002 the World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2003 was the Cricket World Cup, in other words there are so many of these events that we host as South Africa and provide protection for. This is the same thing that we are going to do relevant to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

But as a country, particularly the protection services that we have, we are going to be looking at a number of things, and already we have done some things relevant to the FIFA World Cup. In other words from 2008 to 2010 we are going to be involved in all of those events, which include next year the Confederations Cup of FIFA, as well as the British Lions rugby tour to South Africa. The most important one is of course the elections next year, as you know those are national elections which relates rather to the National Assembly and the provincial legislatures.

The following year, 2010, we will have the local government elections. So in 2010 already apart from the FIFA World Cup there is the local government election which is going to be happening in that year. But everything this year for instance we have the Africa Diaspora Summit which is going to be held in September. All of those matters we protect as a country. And of course we have more resources both human and material that we are deploying to all of these matters.

The last point relating to that question is the fact that we are involved in simulated operations in various provinces to showcase some of the things that we will do, when the media as you know will always like to go for juicy stories, there is this one story when this simulation was happening in Durban there was a cash-in-transit heist somewhere else around there, and of course in the [unclear] it was… the story was while these ones were busy playing there was crime which was being committed.

The media did not say then those who were playing there actually came to the rescue of those who were under attack. This is a fact. It shows therefore the readiness of our forces to deal with this particular matter. The simulations were conducted in Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein, but they are going to continue until 2010 and we are going to be reorganising ourselves, strengthening ourselves in cases where there are obvious weaknesses as we do this work. The Cabinet Lekgotla asked me to tell you only about those things that I've placed before you.

And I'm sure you'll ask me questions that relate to the mandate that I was given by the Cabinet Lekgotla, these matters that I've placed before you. But the last thing I want to say is that as a matter of fact we have two presentations here. It's this presentation that I have made. There is something else that we reported to the Cabinet Lekgotla, the matter of violent crime in South Africa which accompanies many of the crimes that occur. You will know that in 2007, February, we appointed the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation to help us understand why that is the case in South Africa, why is there so much violence attendant to the commission of crime in South Africa.

They have been doing that work and they have at least submitted some of the reports they have finalised. And at the end of the year they will hand over the final report which is going to help us to generate discussions at least at Cabinet level. Cabinet will decide how to take this particular matter forward. So what we want to do today is to release those reports that they have already done, but we will do so as part of the briefing we are making today. Programme director, we thought that before we are then asked questions about this, if we could have an additional ten minutes to run… I don't know how we are going to do it, are we… is it going to be a PowerPoint presentation? Thank you.

Unidentified Speaker: Okay, colleagues, we are going to start now with the presentation. The presentation will be led by David Bruce, who's the senior researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

David Bruce senior researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation: Greetings to the Honourable Ministers, the members of the media and security agencies. I'm just going to be doing a quick presentation. There's a copy of the presentation called 'Study of the violent nature of crime in South Africa – creating a violence free society'. I'm just going to be going through the presentation, so you might want to look at that.

(See a copy of the presentation at: http://www.info.gov.za/issues/crime/CSVR_presentation.pdf.)

The Centre for the Study of Violence has been contracted to undertake a study on the violent nature of crime in South Africa. Essentially the study is intended to understand the overall problem of violence and the high levels of violence in South Africa, and there are also specific elements to the problem that we're supposed to give more detailed attention to, and then make recommendations on.

The project involves six components. There's an initial concept paper and there's a study of the circumstances of murder in six areas of high rates of murder, and there should be copies of executive summaries for those two papers in the packs as well, and then those executive summaries and copies of the papers themselves will be available on the government website and the websites of the Secretariat and the CSVR website as from about ten o'clock today. And then there's three other deliverables. The one is a study on the nature and causes of sexual violence. One is an examination of socio-economic factors which contribute to violence. One is a set of case studies on perpetrators of violent crime. And then by November we'll be providing a summary report with key findings and recommendations. So the purpose of this participation in today's briefing by CSVR is to give a sort of preliminary indication of the direction in which the project is taking. To publicise some of the material that has been generated by way of this project to the broader the public. The concept paper was very much seen as a initial deliverable which was completed in June last year, and so if you look in the executive summary of that or in the concept paper itself you'll see a number of recommendations which are made there, but those were in some ways our preliminary recommendations and at the end of this presentation I'll be speaking to the issue of where we're going in terms of the types of recommendations that we're thinking of, and you will see some links with the recommendations in the concept paper.

But we'll be basically developing those ideas towards the final report. Now I'm going to be touching very quickly on a few issues and some of the kind of selected findings from the report, and then I think I'll be speaking in a bit of detail about the issue of the type of recommendations that we're thinking of.

One aspect of the project is that we're talking about major forms of violence, so we're talking about forms of violence. You'll see some of the categories that we use in talking about forms of violence correspond with the offence categories that are used in crime statistics. But we're talking about forms of violence we're not specifically talking about the offence categories. We've identified three forms of violence which we're talking about as major forms of violence. The one being those types of assaults linked to arguments and domestic violence or possibly other types of circumstances. The second one is rape and sexual assault, and the third is robbery and other violent property crime. And so our sense is that I it is reasonable to say that the bulk of violence in South African society is distributed between those forms of violence. And so the project will be focusing on those rather than other sort of manifestations and forms of violence.

One of the issues that we've been also asked to give some attention to is this question of what government and the police call social contact crime, and what we in the project are calling acquaintance violence. And the Minister already spoke a bit about that in the briefing a few minutes ago, so just the view that we're taking on this is just that I think our sense is also that it is correct that if one is talking about the national picture of violence in South Africa, that this kind of acquaintance violence – and one is talking about a range of different relationship between people including family and intimate relationships but also other kinds of relationships, there's a range of different types of relationship potentially involved – but that if one's looking at the national picture it is true to say that most violence is acquaintance violence. When looking at acquaintance violence it also seems reasonable to say that some dimensions of the problem are neglected in some ways. So a massive part of the problem of acquaintance violence are male-on-male assaults… arguments involving men. In engagements around crime priorities that's one issue there hasn't been that much engagement with that issue.

The obvious point of comparison with acquaintance violence is what one might call stranger violence. Here we're talking mostly about this kind of robbery or other violent property crime. In some areas though a large proportion of sexual assaults also involve strangers. The urban and metropolitan areas are where stranger violence is much more of a problem. In the areas where we carried out the murder study our sense was and the findings of the murder project are that,  in inner city areas and for instance township type areas it's reasonable to say that stranger violence makes as much of a contribution to the overall murder rates as does acquaintance violence. Its much more outside of the urban areas that one's talking about acquaintance violence being, for instance, the predominant driver of murder.

Another facet is that there is a major phenomenon of street robbery. For instance in the six areas where we carried out the murder study, street robberies seem to be a major contributor to the overall murder rates. And so one of the things that we're arguing in this project, is that both male-on-male assaults and street robbery are what one might call sub-categories of violence.  And there're a few points there on that slide about why we think that that's the case.

Another issue highlighted in the following slide that the project is motivating for is that in talking about priorities in addressing violent crime one needs to then have quite a kind of differentiated approach between different types of areas, and so on this slide on page nine there there's, you know, a suggestion about the different types of priorities in different types of areas and how they might vary.

I've been asked to be quite quick so I'm just jumping right over the points about the causes of violence in the presentation. But then moving to the slides which start on page 12 of the presentations, and so talking then about the kind of thinking that is emerging around the types of measures that might be affected in addressing violent crime. If you look at the concept paper I think there are 24 recommendations in there. This  presentation presents a selection of these but also reflects a kind of development of our thinking which is reflected in the concept paper.

We have three things which we're talking about now as principle recommendations. The one is enhancing developmental crime prevention, the second one is contesting the culture of violence, and the third one is strengthening evidence based crime investigation and prosecution. And we're thinking about those as being our kind of principle recommendations, although there are a number of other recommendations. Just to talk about what we mean by developmental crime prevention, it would be measures targeted at young people, potentially young children, but also teenagers and young men. In addition these would be measures focused on parenting practises. This is a perspective which is supported by research which has been conducted in South Africa and from other countries. For instance there's an organisation called the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention which has also done a lot of research around this kind of field, and their research also strongly supports the need for these kind of interventions. There is also strong support for these types of measures from research that has been conducted in other countries.  There's potentially a range of developmental type crime prevention measures that could be implemented. Some issues are mentioned here, but they would also extend to things like residential skills and life skills type training programmes for young people. Even something like a national youth service type initiative if structured to include ayouth developmental component, could essentially be seen as falling within the ambit of this type of intervention.

Then the second key recommendation is for a much more sustained engagement aimed at contesting the culture of violence. If you look at what many people are saying about the causes of violence in South Africa issues to do with the culture of violence and the culture of criminality are consistently coming up. What people are talking about is that a kind of social tolerance and acceptance of violence is a major part of the problem of violence in South Africa. And so it would seem then that there is major scope for contesting violence on what might be called a cultural level, and again there's a few  points on page 14 around what might be avenues for contesting the culture of violence.  The one possibility would be simply on a leadership level of just consistently making the point and sending out the message that violence is unacceptable and that South Africans as a nation are not accepting of violence and potentially one could, you know, ask people right across society to place much more emphasis on communicating about that. But, and we'd emphasise that we're still refining these kind of recommendations, but the one point of reflection for us is the experience of the National Peace Accord in South Africa in the early 1990s, where there was a mobilisation against  violence and there were specific symbols used, and it seems that through a kind of cross-societal mobilisation against violence it was possible to challenge the pervasive problem then of political violence which was the focus at that time. There would be other types of interventions which could be seen as part of a kind of contesting the culture of violence and it might involve trying to establish spaces, be they public spaces. Considering the problem of violence in schools, there would obviously be value in establishing this kind of thing in schools. So contesting the culture of violence might involve articulating messages against the use of violence, using media and public education, establishing safe spaces, and potentially working through community based structures against violence.

And then the third issue which we're putting forward which is just consistent with some of the issues which are being emphasised in the criminal justice review, is a specific focus on the process of crime investigation and prosecution. As we are framing the issue this is essentially about  strengthening evidence based crime investigation and prosecution. So it's specifically focusing on strengthening the elements of support to police and prosecutors around the use of evidence in the crime investigation and prosecution process. Quite often when people talk about this issue it seems that they focus on the issue of physical evidence, things like fingerprints and DNA and so on. But from what we know the types of evidence that is used most in the criminal justice system is witness evidence. And that includes the evidence of witnesses and victims. And so we would for instance give a lot of the emphasis to the need to strengthen the support that's provided to detectives and prosecutors in enabling them to work much more effectively with witnesses and victims. And then there would also be the issue of suspect interviews and the use of confession evidence. So one would want to strongly discourage abuses and the use of coercive techniques but at the same time assist detectives to enable them to conduct more effective suspect interviews, as well as ensuring that prosecutors are well equipped to make use of this type of information. So if we're talking about strengthening a culture of non-violence and institutionalising a kind of rejection of violence then that would obviously also extend to interviewing practises used by the police when engaging with suspects and so obviously they would need to strengthen and support police in developing interviewing techniques.

There's also another slide there on some of the other thinking around other recommendations. If there are questions about any of those issues raised there we would be happy to respond to them. But just then that one obviously has to think about some of the recommendations that we're making, which ones of those are more practical in the short term and which of them would essentially be only kind of measures which would start to yield results in the medium to long term. And so for instance something like developmental crime prevention which potentially involves investing in the development of social work skills and the training of social workers, would not be something that would yield results immediately, but nevertheless it would be something that's important to engage with. Also one of the issues that we are also puttint forward as relevant to understanding violent crime are what one might  call  structural issues in South African society. We have specific understandings about why for instance there is such a strong link between inequality and violence. And so also one of the questions that we're putting forward and trying to engage with is just a question around to what extent is there a need for a kind of deeper level of social change in South African society specifically for instance addressing the problem of inequality and creating a more equal society in South Africa. And so we would see that as ultimately and necessarily part of addressing the problem of violence in South Africa.

Thank you very much.

Questions and answers

Journalist: I think its best to leave the last bit for last, but starting off with Minister Nqakula and he was talking about the helicopters and the technology that we have to now look at our borderlines. What I want to know is what on earth we are going to do once we establish that people are crossing those borderlines because we know that already. We can look at them, but what do we do once we've located them?

Journalist: Just to the minister, given that the CSVI reports have pointed to strong links between inequality and violence, are you not misguided in pumping even more money into this so-called moral regeneration?

Journalist: I don't know if it was deliberate or not, but there are no references made whatsoever to timelines. What goal-orientated timeline are we looking at? When does government expect to see results? I think Minister Nqakula said a drastic reduction in crime. When and by how much less?

Minister Charles Nqakula: Thank you very much. While the technological measures that we are adopting of course, indeed will see people as they intend to or actually cross our borders, those who cross our borders illegally will of course be arrested. There are quite a number of people who are crossing our borders illegally. We want to stem that tide. So they will be arrested when they cross our border. The issue of moral regeneration of course, there are many things that we need to do there. That is why we are putting in more resources. We know there is a connection of course, between poverty and some of the crimes that are committed.

But there are crimes which are very, very difficult to ascribe to that kind of understanding, because we found that there are people who come from families – not well-to-do but still from families that have the necessary withal to bring up their children and what have you – and you can't say in the commission of the crimes they do commit, they are motivated by poverty. But what we need to do in South Africa which is important for all of us is to change the mindset. Now in order for us to do that, we need to mobilise people, we need to interact with people so that at least we are able to lift up those principles that we used to have in the past.

That is why as part and parcel of the moral regeneration project you do require mobility so that we can interact with people, and you will of course require resources in order for you to do that. The issue of timelines, you will see in the document what we say about these. There are things that we can do and do quickly and I'm sure Johnny (De Lange), you will indicate some of the things that we are already doing with respect to the review of the Criminal Justice System, things that we need to do and as I said in my initial input, we won't use that as a vehicle to open up the space you require in order for us to reduce crime and so on and other elements within the integrated Criminal Justice System. There are things that we are already doing now. There are some things that will be done at a later stage, including the possibility if it does arise, of a change in our law to accommodate some of the changes we want to bring about. I was answering those three questions. Thank you.

Journalist: Sorry Minister, you didn't say anything. Forgive me. With regards to the goal-orientated targets that the government has set…by 2015 we hope to achieve blah! Blah! Blah!?

Minister Charles Nqakula: When I was a cub reporter I had a very nasty – I can say it now because he no longer lives – I had a very nasty news editor and one of the things he liked to say, he looked at your copy and said 'this is stretching the point'. Well I hope Reuters is not stretching the point. I am saying there are things we can do and we are doing some of these things that we can do. Reduction of crime I said in my initial input is within the confines of the target that government has set that on an annual basis we want to reduce crime by between seven percent and 10% and of course we said in the initial input that we are sticking to that plan.

There are things that are happening now. Others will happen later on, including the finalisation of the structures we require which will actually be the bricks and mortar as we say in our input, relevant to the changes in the Criminal Justice System. I'm sure if you would allow Johnny (De Lange), he could quickly talk through some of the things that we are already doing to change around what we are talking about.

Deputy Minister Johnny de Lange: I think what the inputs show and what it generally shows is that any response to crime has to be multi-faceted. The research that Mr David Bruce is doing, shows that if you're going to pick little issues and deal with them it's not going to work. So clearly socio-economic upliftment, all our socio-economic upliftment plans are vital. We're not even mentioning them here today. It's for another cluster we deal with. Someone mentioned Moral Regeneration – vital! We're not dealing with that even here. Then Mr Bruce's point about three thrusts that they are in a preliminary way putting forward. You can see each of those do not happen overnight. I mean socio-economic upliftment – I mean we've been going for 15 years in our new democracy, we've done a lot but there's still an enormous amount of things to do. Moral regeneration is at a low. We need to get that up. But the things where we can start giving targets and we will hopefully start doing that as we develop further, is particularly in the area, the third area Mr Bruce mentioned and which the review also falls under.

Now I literally have said to people when they ask me what is the timeline … I say 'yesterday'. I mean we have to take it as seriously as that. We have to move on these issues and we must move quickly. The more crime entrenches itself, the more difficulties we have imposing ourselves on crime (and) the more difficult it gets down the line. So no-one's going to win by us dilly-dallying with things. Our Lekgotla, as the Minister (Nqakula) has also very clearly told us at the end of the Lekgotla that we're watching you very carefully with this project, you need to move with it and our foot is on your neck with it. So what we've done is, we then with these seven areas we've identified; we've created a whole host of inter-departmental structures to look at all of them at the same time. We've not said do one and then the other. We've said look at the whole lot and let us see what we can process, take to the justice cluster led by our ministers, and then process two. So already in the next two or three weeks – I was telling the Minister this morning – we're getting report-backs on those task teams, to see how far they are, and then we'll start trying to give some targets to where we are going on some of these issues. Some of them are going to take a bit longer, some of them are going to have to be done in two or three phases but the whole lot of it, we're moving on. So I imagine the time lines are tight.

We have to move and we hope that in the coming weeks we will start being able to start actually adopting some of them already, move on it, start implementing and on others we'll start setting targets for ourselves and then we can be a bit more I think, pointed. But the issue with this is, whatever we do, if you have analysed any of the three points that Mr Bruce's made, any of the others, the ones made in the review, all those issues have to be done now to start having impact down the line and I think that we have to realise, that those will have impact down the line and so I think that's important to deal with and that is how government is dealing with it.

Journalist: Thanks. Just a question on that, what I thought is a fairly interesting trend, the increasing violence amongst young women or girls. Those murder attacks, are they in defence or are they actually where they go out and attack somebody, not necessarily defending themselves in the process and is this something that we see that is very similar to what's happening in America where there seems to be a lot more school violence, pupil attacking. Is it copycat?

Journalist: Talking about the issue of violence in schools, it has been discussed over time and the education department has actually said that they will be acting on it and they have had some sort of [unclear] derailed by many parents who then said that they don't want their schools to be turning into militarised zones and all of that. But looking at the latest incident that we've witnessed, that the minister has actually alluded to, is there a need for maybe involving law enforcement in a way at school level to try to deal with what is seen to be a problem?

Journalist: Minister, you've given us the number of figures – quite shocking, especially regarding kids. Is it safe to say that crime is out of control in South Africa?

Minister Charles Nqakula: We are hoping that the study we are doing is going to help us to have a better understanding of our children and violence. They did some interviews with a number of people who were in our correctional facilities and I'm sure when we receive the next instalment of that report, it will be clarified. We are uncertain whether this is copycat crime. The other day we were talking about for instance, some of the stuff that is coming from the media, to what extent is it influencing children?

It's very, very difficult at this time to say with any measure of confidence that indeed all of those things are contributing to children to behave this way. These are very, very difficult things to look at. Now, because of the other figures that we have given, and because of the behaviour of our children, does this mean that crime is out of control? We have given the figures of the children who are involved. We said there are just over three thousand of them who are in detention. But how many children do we have in South Africa, comparatively speaking? Because we are dealing here with a small number – it does not matter what crime it is, it is small numbers of people among who will be repeat offenders. Of course crime levels are high in South Africa and we are trying to deal with that particular matter, but it does not mean that the entire population in our country is involved in perpetrating crime in South Africa. There would be a problem if there were more of these people who were involved in crime. And what is the response of the law enforcement agencies? We have overcrowding in our prisons and that overcrowding is a consequence of the investigations and arrests that law enforcement agencies are doing, including very tough sentencing.

In South Africa as we speak, there are more than six thousand people who are serving life sentences and when we took over in 1994 there was a very negligible number of people like that. Where they are now is a consequence of the work that is being done by the law enforcement agencies that create an environment of safety and security in South Africa. There are many, many people, some of them involved in these serious and violent crimes. They are behind bars. I wanted (Deputy National) Commissioner (Andre) Pruis to send some detail from January to perhaps the end of July which will relate to the arrests we have made just during those six months, how many people have been arrested in terms of these serious and violent crimes. It is because the law enforcement agencies are able to do their work. They have people who have been involved in the ATM bombings as you know; many have been arrested relating to that. There are fewer ATM bombings that are happening now as a consequence of that response from the law enforcement agencies. There are various things like that, which surely do not mean that we are unable to deal with crime and therefore crime is out of control. No, we are able to deal with these matters and only a few people are involved and as I say, some of them repeat offenders.

Its just a pity that indeed, the matter of violence at schools is a matter where we have not as yet with our communities decided what to do regarding these matters. Because, if we were working together and we had a strategy embraced by all, we would be able to stop children bringing into their classrooms dangerous weapons. We would be able to check who would be bringing in illicit stuff into school and so on and so forth. But for the time being, there's no common understanding of what we need. Of course it's a bad reflection when you find in our schools, people from the police who are at school or in the immediate surrounds of the school, to deal with the matter of violence perpetrated by the school children. Elsewhere in the world as you know, there is a lot of this school violence – a lot of it. Now we are worried in South Africa when we are able to pick up kids who have assault rifles in their schoolbags going to school, have pistols in their school bags going to school. We are worried about that situation. We will be able to deal with it as law enforcement agencies, but all the time that kind of intervention is after the fact. What happens to parents regarding this matter? Where did this kid get the assault rifle and all of those things? But this is where we are at, but together with the Department of Education we are still discussing what other measures we ought to adopt to deal with the matter of school violence.

Journalist: I was interested in what you said about having spotted people coming over the border – well, we will simply arrest them, you say. Isn't that going to take rather more determination than has already been shown by looking after the borderline areas, more staff, more equipment, more determination?

Journalist: Suffice to say this morning is even more surreal and depressing than I though was possible because I just don't know whether there's anything that we can report back on. I'm going to follow up on my previous question and then set my next one. The Minister of Safety and Security told us that he would arrest these people that we saw coming across our borders, but the Minster of Home Affairs with whom I think the Minister is well acquainted, has told us that actually we don't want to arrest people coming across our borders. She told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs that they should not do so, so once we arrest them what are going to do with them and are we going to arrest them? And then to my next question which was surprising to hear that we want to eliminate informal settlements by 2014. Has this been calibrated? When are we going to start? Where are we going to start? What have we budgeted?

Journalist: The Minister said overcrowding is a consequence of good work by the law enforcement agencies, but last week, I think it was someone from the Department of Justice, said that a lot of the overcrowding in the prisons is due to people having been arrested for very petty offences who can't afford bail or pay fines – you know, people who have been arrested for stealing bread or baby formula. So what is the actual situation in the prisons? How much of the overcrowding is due to people who can't afford to pay a fine of R200 to get out?

Journalist: My question is directed to Mr Bruce regarding the recommendation he made about banning alcohol. I did notice that you said that in most of these incidents alcohol was somehow involved. What is it in your research that allowed you to believe that there was some correlation between the advertising for example, of alcohol products and how people then tend to behave in a violent manner?

Journalist: My question is to the Minister of Safety and Security and maybe the Deputy Minister of Justice might help us. As the [unclear] review the Criminal Justice System are they also focusing more pertinent types of punishment, as said by the Minister that they are overcrowded in prisons [unclear].

Deputy Minister Johnny de Lange: The review is a national project. It's a project that government has taken a lot of time over to review what we haven't done before and that is, we've always concentrated on how much crime has been committed and that's obviously an important issue. What we've never done is to actually look at – once the crime has been committed how the system does then handle that? Now obviously, all aspects of the system have to be looked at.

When we in this national project are engaging, we're obviously engaging internally as a government, looking at what our problems are and how we can solve them internally, and we're engaging externally as well with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), with the opposition, with the media and with society generally, so that we get a plan on board that we all agree with and buy into. I mean, that's very important that this plan is bought into because a lot of our problems actually stem from our own people.

Look at the markets with our crimes. Who is the market for crime when something is stolen, when a car is stolen, when we've broken into homes? Where do you think all those good go? Government doesn't buy it. Police don't buy it. We know that these things are bought in public. So we have to get the buyer in on the whole project and therefore all these issues are up for looking at, whether it's sentencing and so on. But you know, I think we must get our eye on the ball.

Our problem is this: we have 2,1 million reported cases. The number of cases we actually finalise in court is 340 000 in a year. We can't really tell you how many of those cases are in that year because that's not how the statistics are kept. That's what we're trying to fix up. But if you look at every year that we looked at, the snapshot is the same. So from 2,1 million, in the end we only deal with 340 000. Something happens to all the things in the middle. And that is really what we're tying to find: what is that what happens in the middle? All those cases! Where are they, where have they disappeared? And if we start becoming successful then clearly that's going to increase the amount of people we have. We're actually then going to start finding the people who are committing the crimes, which we are not doing fully at the moment. We're doing it to an extent. And so punishment will become one part of it and we will have to change our system around that. In fact, if you go and look at our law, our law is very advanced. I law probably compares with many countries in the world in terms of what courts can do with people that they sentence.

The problem is the facilities. You need some of the things that Mr Bruce has spoken about – you need enormous facilities and it costs a whole bunch of money to actually provide for out of prison opportunities. If you want to create a parole system, a probation system, it means you have to create a whole lot of welfare officers and so on, outside of prison, that can process those people and integrate them back into society.

If you go to many major cities in the world, they spend big parts of their budget on programmes of re-integration of people back into society. We have none of those in our society that I'm aware of. So we've got quite a way to go when we come with alternatives for imprisoning. We all would like that to happen tomorrow because it will help; it will take huge pressure off the system. As far as the overcrowding is concerned, we're busy with an audit at the moment of all ATDs – all awaiting trial prisoners. All nine provinces are doing an audit as we sit here now. They've been doing it for at least two weeks, where we're trying to look at each and every case. We've said to the police in that province and the prosecutors together to go and look at those cases. They will bring a report back to us and we've asked for cases in terms of firstly, which ones we have to go ahead with, because some of them have been waiting for a while, witness have maybe gone, there may be problems.

Secondly we say, those that can go to trial try and get them to trial as soon as possible, to try and deal with this backlog of 48 000. But it's also true that 11 000 people that were given bail, are sitting in prison. 11 000 awaiting trial detainees (ATDs) are sitting prison when they've been given bail and many of them are small amounts of bail. They just cannot pay it. So we've already got a law in parliament where we've tried to change the law to say that judicial officers, when they actually look at bail, the first thing they must decide, should this person be released or not. That's their decision to make. Once you decide that they must be released, to have a second enquiry to see what it is, whether they can afford what you are intending the conditions of bail to be and we're hoping that at least that, will start changing somewhere. You know, there is a study that Ron Pascher did, Advocate Pascher, in the Cape area – this is a fascinating study. Almost in every single crime the average bail was R500. Whether you stole or whether you murdered, the average was R500. and when the magistrates were presented with this information, they were actually shocked at what they were doing in courts, because clearly there was not much of a distinction between the crimes in terms of whether people should be released or not, it was really a mechanism to try and see whether you will be able to hold them to come back to court or not, which is not what it should be.

The audit as well, in fact the first part of the audit is to examine the 11 000, to see if we can get them out of prison as quick as possible – Section 63A helps us and in general we've asked the prosecutors and the police to – even those cases which don't fall in Section 63A to see whether the possibility is there because a court has already decided that, that person can be outside. So they should not be in prison. So hopefully through this audit that is being done, we will be able to – and the audit is not just for now – the audit will be that from now on we will as the ministers, regularly get reports on how we're handling and dealing with ATDs.

So that the prosecutors and police work together in dealing with this and once we've done the audit it is then easier to get it as an ongoing process. The other area where we're trying to speed up the audit is Mthatha where there's a big problem with overcrowding. So I again want to reiterate, the view is holistic. It deals with all aspects of it and we want people to get involved, particularly to raise the kind of issues where we feel we should be doing things differently than we've done it now.

Minister Charles Nqakula: While it would seem that I'm just dealing with matters relating to cross-border migration, I once served as a deputy minister in Home Affairs. I suppose that's why I'm being asked to answer things that relate to that particular question. Let me explain something that is happening, an arrangement which has been in place for quite a while now, that the Southern African Development Community has what is called the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-ordinating Organisation (SARPCO), they have something like that which is a police organisation. We discussed towards the end of last year how we are going to co-operate to deal with the matter of illegal crossings into South Africa, particularly looking at the 2010 FIFA World Cup and anticipating that there may be people who will want to come, want to watch those matches, but others who hope there may be employment opportunities. Others will simply come because they will think that there are other things they can do to generate some sort of income relating to that competition.

So apart from us who on our side are watching the borderline, we have others on the other side, police chiefs, who are also guarding the borderline. People who cross into South Africa illegally, who will be monitored, unfortunately this time it's not just monitoring on the border only, because the helicopters as I have said, the fixed wing aircraft, are also going to be monitoring using high technology to beam back to stations images of the borderline. And therefore we'll be able to detect people who are going to be crossing illegally. So even if those on patrol on the border don't make the necessary interventions, it gets picked up in the police stations and instructions will be given.

There's going to be high mobility on the basis of the aircraft that we have and other measures that will be in place to make those necessary interventions. So indeed there will be more determination, there will be more resources human and otherwise, that will be deployed for this particular purpose. Particularly because the matter of cross-border migration also relates to the commission of crime by some of the people who come across that border as illegal migrants into South Africa. So it's part and parcel of the law enforcement agencies to deal with that situation as crime that is being committed against the country. Well, it's a pity that the Minister of Home Affairs and I have a principle that we adopted a long time ago that we do not discuss politics at home. She doesn't discuss what I do; I don't discuss what she does. But the way I understand what she was talking about are people who were displaced and went to the various temporary shelters. Her instruction was that we can't be opportunistic and say because these people are in this unfortunate situation we therefore must find among them those who came into South Africa illegally and arrest them. She came to Cabinet with that proposal, and we agreed in Cabinet that we couldn't be opportunistic in that way. We need to do law enforcement in the way that we do.

In fact, those who are arrested not connected to this matter, have indeed been taken to the Lindela camp and are deported out of South Africa on a regular basis. So there is no instruction that we should not arrest people who come across the border illegally. We arrest them. I want to assure you that it is a matter that is receiving priority attention so that we can deal with the illegal migration into South Africa by people, because anybody who wants to come into South Africa and their intention is to ensure that they are recorded as refugees, even if they cross illegally and are arrested they will indicate that, and they are processed to ensure that indeed it is people who merit to be considered for refugee status. [unclear] do this, more resources, and more determination I am sure. Fortunately we have the person who is responsible at the most senior level in the police management who deals with this thing among us, Commissioner Pruis here, that is his responsibility. And they have assured us that they are going to deal with this matter in the way that I have indicated. As I said, it was only those two questions that I had to field, thank you very much.

David Bruce: Just by way of responding to the question about alcohol and violence and advertising, there're a few issues. The one thing is just that particularly if you're looking at this acquaintance violence phenomenon, the blood alcohol information on victims of murder in that kind of acquaintance violence scenario indicates very strongly that generally in a large majority of cases that there's kind of alcohol involved.

And so I mean from the [unclear] point of view there's a reasonable question which is presumably also the kind of perpetrator of the murders has also generally been involved in drinking alcohol. But from the research point of view there's a question about whether the alcohol is the cause of the violence or is there underlying disposition on the part of the person which potentially is implicated in the use of alcohol on the one hand and the violence on the other hand, and in fact the alcohol has no impact on the violence. So one has to consider that issue, but nevertheless it seems clear that alcohol in some ways compounds the risk of violence, whatever the underlying psychological dispositions might be, that the people might have.

So then the question of advertising. It is clear then to us that alcohol was implicated as an aggravating factor in violence. And so the one thing is just that the advertising very clearly sort of glamorises the use of alcohol. It suggests in some ways both that alcohol is a kind of [unclear] people should are worthy of if they've done something worthwhile, and it doesn't help to give people a kind of critical awareness of the risks associated with alcohol use, and potentially the risks of violence associated with it, for victims as well as for perpetrators of violence.

For instance on the link between cigarettes and crime stats it was clear that one of the problems that was accepted was that fairly into the use of cigarettes was advertising and similarly, you know, it would seem that there's a reasonable analogy that could be made between alcohol advertising and feeding into the problem of violence. For instance in Bogotá and I think not only Bogotá but there're obvious examples of [unclear] cities where there've been interventions against violence which have involved other controls on the use of alcohol. So potentially it would be worth considering for instance ihaving total regulation around the opening hours of drinking establishments and things like that, and so that isn't something that we've engaged with as to whether we should make recommendations around that kind of issue. But possibly that might be something that we would do in the final report.

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)
25 August 2008

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CSVR is a multi-disciplinary institute that seeks to understand and prevent violence, heal its effects and build sustainable peace at the community, national and regional levels.

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