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Justice and Correctional Services : Speech by Hon. Stan Maila MP (ANC) on "The scourge of murders affecting all South Africans on a daily basis."

Philosophical Underpinning

In order to adequately address the matter before us, we need to continue to strengthen the criminal justice system. The Criminal Justice System comprises of the police, the prosecution, the courts, correctional centres and aspects of the welfare system. Overlooking the role to be played by the community in strengthening the criminal justice system will be a grievous mistake. Integration of all these aspects is key towards the attainment of the ideals of vision 2030.

The National Development Plan identifies the following priority areas relevant to the Criminal Justice System:

  • Strengthen the CJS
  • Build safety using an integrated approach and
  • Build community participation in community safety.

The ideals consolidated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa are a reflection of what the ANC has advocated for since 1912. The Freedom Charter recognized the courts as an important branch of a just and democratic society. The Charter declared that all people shall be equal before the law. Since the adoption of the Charter, the ANC's stance on correction has been re-education and not vengeance with imprisonment being for only serious crimes.

In 1989, the ANC adopted the Harare Declaration which laid the foundation for the establishment democratic institutions. Great emphasis was placed on the independence of the judiciary. In the Ready to Govern document, the ANC concerned itself with creating legitimate security institutions, which today, are a far cry from those which were employed by the apartheid regime.

At the 50th National Conference, the ANC resolved to endorse and support the initiative to transform the prosecuting authority from twelve fragmented authorities into one national structure headed and controlled by the National Director of Public Prosecutions, with one prosecuting policy applicable throughout the country. Emphasis was on the authority to perform its duties without fear, favour or prejudice.

The rationalization and re-demarcation of the boundaries of magisterial districts allow for greater access to the courts. Previously, courts were only accessible to those living in urban areas. Those living in rural areas and townships were completely disregarded. Today, there has been an increase in the construction of police stations and courts. There is at least one High Court in each of the nine provinces.

The ANC resolved to shift emphasis in the Criminal Justice System into a more victim orientated approach to ensure and to restore a more equitable balance between the rights of the accused or convicted persons and those victims; and to classify violence against women and children as a social and not a legal problem.

Criminal Justice System

South Africa's approach to the criminal justice is contained in the 1996 National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) which still influences the criminal justice sector. This strategy was adopted by cabinet and it motivated a shift in emphasis from crime control to crime prevention because crime is not just a security issue but it is also a social issue.

Police apprehend criminals, the NPA prosecutes, the courts sentence and Correctional centres incarcerate. The key question to ask is whether harsher sentences deter crime. That cannot be the answer because when plotting a crime, criminals believe that they will not be caught. The answer lies with strategies of preventing crime.

Often communities complain that alleged offenders are released on bail or acquitted due to lack of evidence while they have proof that a crime was committed. This often results in communities taking the law into their own hands thus causing even more problems. The challenge here is that those who have evidence do not collaborate with the police. We urge people with evidence to come forward. We commend people like Mr Delton Sithole, who despite fear of victimization, was able to come forward and testify in the case of Mr Victor Mlotshwa who was forced into a coffin. People who have evidence should be willing to testify so that justice can prevail.

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