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Address by the Hon. TSP Makwetla, MP, Deputy-Minister of Justice & Correctional Servicesz, Responsible for Corrections on the occasion of the 2018 State Of the Nation Address debate in the national Parliament, Cape Town 19 February 2018

Madame Speaker, Madam Chairperson of the Council of Provinces, Honourable President, Distinguished Members of the House, and Our guests in the gallery.

The elegantly crafted Vision statement of our National Development Plan, which I prefer to call ,Vision 2030 says, and I quote,
"We the people of South Africa, have journeyed far since the long lines of our first democratic election of 27th April 1994, when we elected a government for us all.
"We have agreed to change our narrative of conquest, oppression, resistance and victory.
"We began to tell a new story of life in a developing democracy. We began to share freedom and the uncertainties of living with it and in it.
"We felt our way towards a new sense of ourselves: trying, succeeding, and making mistakes.
"Our new story is open ended with temporary destinations, only for new paths to open up once more.
"It is a story of unfolding learning.
Even when we flounder, we remain hopeful.
In this story, we always arrive and depart.
We have come some way."

This philosophical submission contained in our National Development Plan is indeed pregnant with the truth.

Madame Speaker, we are barely two months into the New Year, however so much has already happened. In this regard, permit me to dedicate my speech in this debate of the state of the nation address by the President, to two celebrated cultural luminaries of our time, Bra-Willie and Bra-Hugh, Professor Keorapetse Kgositsile and Ramapolo Hugh Masekela of the 'Stimela sa Kwa-Guqa' testament. Their untimely departure from among the living has robbed us of rare quality and has left the flair of our people jaded. Through their immense talents, forthright manner, and undying love for their country, they fought for the Right of our people to self-determination and social justice. May their spirits continue to roam peacefully over this land everlastingly.

Speaker, it is fair to say that to every dark cloud there is always a silver lining - every crisis situation presents a rare opportunity for a speedy and bigger advance. The measures the President Matamela Ramaphosa is contemplating in order to facilitate dialogue to get our country on a new growth path, higher employment levels and transformation , are well placed and deserve support.

"In contemporary political philosophy, the view that democracy is best seen as 'government by discussion', has gained widespread support" argues AMARTYA SEN, one of the leading contemporary thinkers on issues of developmental in human society. It is an antithesis to the older more formal view that democracy is elections and ballots.
I was tempted to treat with skepticism media reports which suggested that there are opposition leaders who have dismissed as an excuse your strategy Cde President, to drive solutions in the different government sector endeavors through people centered, people driven initiatives. But then if there are leaders who want to expose themselves that they are actually career politicians or they are clueless or have no intention of grappling with the fundamental challenges of remaking our society, and the centrality of dialogue in that mission, we can only hope that the people are watching and are listening.

Our constitution states that the basis of our "National security must reflect the resolve of South Africans, as individuals and as a nation, to live as equals, to live in peace and harmony, to be free from fear and want and to seek a better life." Your intention therefore Cde President 'to get social partners in our country to collaborate in building a social compact on which we will create drivers of economic recovery' is most welcome.

Madame Speaker, the events leading up to the opening of parliament last week and developments in the country in general, underpinned the inspirational truth that, amidst all the negativity and apprehension around the much talked about transition of the past weeks, our democracy actually demonstrated that it is maturing and it has come of age. In this regard, the professionalism of the leadership-command of our armed forces, the SANDF stands in bold relieve, and deserves the admiration of this parliament.

Honorable members, the architecture of our defense establishment makes the SANDF not just a national strategic asset to our democracy. It is a vital cock to the sustenance of democracies of our geopolitical region. The SANDF has been involved in extensive security sector reform programs in the SADC Region such as Lesotho and in the DRC.

Speaker, the December NASREC Conference of the ANC noted the ongoing challenges facing our country, which must receive urgent attention. These include:-
1. The continuing decline of national resources dedicated to the defense function.
2. Continuing lawlessness and impunity which threatens the authority of the state.
3. The porousness of our borders which undermines our territorial integrity.
4. Dangerously sluggish economic growth.
5. Espionage, cyber-war threat, and potential acts of terror.

Among urgent undertakings in this regard, is the need to enjoin Cabinet to take a long term view regarding the financial implications of safeguarding South Africa's territorial integrity; the financial conundrum of our Defence Review; and the gaps, deficiencies and the unintended negative consequences of theory and practice around South Africa's military veterans.

Madam Speaker, A transformed judicial system and a resilient and corruption free criminal justice system is central to our quest of realizing the vision we set ourselves in the National Development Plan towards ensuring that All South Africans are and feel safe.

The ANC has just emerged from its national conference in December 2017 at which we agreed on measures that are necessary for the acceleration of existing policies, including those relating to the transformation of the judicial system.

The President's State of the Nation Address has set the tone for the renewal of the State machinery in all its ramifications for the realisation of the transformation policies adopted by the ANC.

In the Justice sector this entails the acceleration of the transformation of the judicial system in order to strengthen and protect the independence of the Judiciary; to safeguard the rule of law and revamp the criminal and civil justice system, in particular to deal effectively with corruption and fraud within the public and private sector.

As South Africans we must first have confidence in our justice system for investor confidence in our economy to be strong. It is when the economy thrives that the much needed jobs can be created to enable people to be employed and thus ensure a better life for all .

We have made significant strides towards the realisation of a transformed Judiciary. The ANC government has passed a maze of progressive laws, amongst others the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment of 2012 and the Superior Courts Act of 2013, to enhance the independence of the judiciary and the courts. The Constitution's Amendment, in particular, affirms the Constitutional Court as the highest court in the land and the Chief Justice as the head of the Judiciary.

It is without doubt that our Judiciary, courts and Institutions Supporting Constitutional Democracy have demonstrated their resilience and independence, guided by our world-renowned Constitution.

The judgment of the Constitutional Court and the remedial actions of the Public Protector, even on contentious matters involving government and Parliament bear testimony of this.

It is important therefore that we acknowledge the important role our courts and constitutional institutions play in upholding the rule of law, and their courage in defending the Constitution and its values, at times against the might of the Executive and this honourable Parliament.

The Freedom Charter committed all democratic South Africans to work for a land where "All shall be equal before the law".
Consistent with this sentiment, our Vision 2030 asserts that we must "All assist the institutions we have creatively redesigned to meet our varied needs ; to be set against corruption and dehumanising actions. We have made the laws by which we want ourselves to live. We hold the constitution of our country as the covenant guide to a fair society.

Since 1994 we have changed the laws to obey our constitution. Now we live it; justice rules, because just laws make community possible. The law enables us to live together fulfilling our mutual obligations and responsibilities in the shared public spaces of mutual affiliation.

In her preface to the "State of Capture Report", the erstwhile Public Protector , Ms Thuli Madonsela made the following remarks .

"One of the crucial elements of our constitutional vision is to make a decisive break from the unchecked abuse of state power and resources that was virtually institutionalised during the apartheid era. To achieve this goal, we adopted accountability, the rule of law and the supremacy of the constitution as values of our constitutional democracy. For this reason, public office bearers ignore their constitutional obligations at their peril. This is so because constitutionalism, accountability and the rule of law constitute the sharp and mighty sword that stands ready to chop the ugly head of impunity off its stiffened neck. Certain values in the Constitution have been designated as foundational to our democracy".

The appointment of the Judicial Commission into State capture, corruption and fraud in the public sector and Organs of State is in compliance with the North Gauteng High Court , and the remedial action of the former Public Protector. All the necessary regulatory frameworks have been put in place for the Commission headed by the Deputy Chief Justice Zondo to commence with its huge task.

Honourable President Ramaphosa has reiterated the importance of the Commission in uncovering the truth on what has been reported widely in the media.

The ANC government will live no stone unturned in ensuring that the Commission performs its functions unhindered. There must not be any fear that any of the regulatory instruments will hinder the Commission from performing its functions or unduly protecting those who are implicated. As the Honourable President mentioned in his SONA, the criminal justice system and its law enforcement agencies will continue to carry out their responsibilities and thus compliment the work of the Commission.

Recently South Africans have noted some commendable work from the side of the Police and National Prosecuting Authority relating to State capture. There is truth in the assertion that the 2017 ANC elective national Conference cleared some hurdles and obstacles in the investigation of these matters and has South Africa on a path to recovery, and most particularly, that of its economy. This is evidence that the winds of change are upon us and there is impetus that we do things differently so that we can get appropriate results.

Corruption knows no colour, creed or political affiliation, it cuts across political spectrum. The incidents which surfaced recently in relation to the Western Cape metro attest to these.

Honourable Speaker,

South Africa ranks amongst the highest countries when it comes to inequality and it has shown that depressed socio economic conditions under which many of our people live breeds crime. It is for this reason that we adopted a radical socio economic transformation to reverse inequality and combat crime and corruption.

Fighting crime and corruption is essential to the development of our economy and the safety and well-being of its citizens and require the collaboration and cooperation of all law enforcement agencies. In order to ensure synergy across the criminal justice value chain Cabinet approved in 2017, an Integrated Criminal Justice Strategy spanning the whole Criminal Justice System (CJS) value chain as well as an Integrated Operational Plan of the JCPS to combat crime known as "Operation Mutingati".

The Integrated Plan to Fight Crime includes the transformation of the Integrated Justice System, combating gender-based violence and sexual offences, and preventing violent service delivery protest-related crime, taxi violence, corruption and economic crimes.
It is every citizen's right to protest peacefully and unarmed in raising concerns on any matter they wish to bring to the attention of the authority.

The purpose of the integrated operational plan is to integrate all the existing efforts to address the identified threats and criminal activities, to eliminate duplication, fragmentation and silo approaches.

Central to the transformation of the criminal justice system is our endeavour to ensure intelligence led, well-investigated and prosecution guided investigations followed by ensuring speedy trial readiness and adjudication of the cases in appropriate court forums (regional or high courts), such as the specialised commercial crime courts. From the perspective of the Judiciary the Chief Justice has established structures in the form of Provincial Efficiency Enhancement Committee which he chairs and the Provincial Efficiency Enhancement Committees chaired by Judges President in each province. This committees ensure coordination of stakeholders in the implementation of measures that are aimed at improving court efficiency.

Madam Speaker,
Building safer communities also means ending gender-based violence. We have also implemented, and are continuing to promote, a special focus on victim empowerment and ensuring that victims and witnesses are treated fairly and are fully supported through amongst others our Charter on the Rights of Victims. A 2016 report by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation found that the two main drivers of intimate femicide are jealousy and possessiveness. These feelings are rooted in notions of masculinity where men see women as their property, which they need to maintain power and control over.
These men often use guns to intimidate their partners, especially when they threaten to leave the abusive relationship. Alcohol and drug abudse abuse is linked with an increased risk of all forms of interpersonal violence.

In response, in 2016 Government commenced with the Anti-Femicide Movement, mainly to create a space for men and male-youth to deliberate and resolve how this spate of killings can be prevented. The objectives of the Femicide Movement are to de-stigmatise domestic violence so as to encourage early reporting and intervention. This includes raising awareness of intimate femicide, the legal framework, safety planning, and other support services available to fight the scourge of intimate femicide and to finalise the development of the National Prevention Strategy against Domestic Violence and Femicide. It also seeks to develop risk assessment tools for victim-support service points within the justice system and to establish a Femicide Watch.

Drug abuse which in particular amongst our youth has become a great concern for government and society at large. The security cluster, led by the Department of Social Development has reviewed the National Drug Master Plan (DMP) in order to strengthen measures to fight the scourge.

Honourable President, and Distinguished Members

Access to justice is a fundamental universal human right without which the rights in the Bill of Rights will be meaningless. There are various measures and programmes underway which seek to enhance access to justice which require acceleration. Among these programmes are the rationalisation of courts' jurisdictional areas in order to reverse the vast distortions in settlement patterns of the past, resulting in the legacy of spatial injustices. To date integrated and inclusive magisterial districts have been implemented in all provinces except Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape. The roll-out to the latter provinces will be completed in the 2018/19 financial year. The construction of the Limpopo High Court which started operating in January 2016 and the Mpumalanga High Court which at an advanced stage is part of this important rationalisation project. The construction of the two High Courts underscores the Government's commitment of building a seat of the High Court in all 9 provinces.

Legal Aid is another vehicle through which the State provide access to legal services to the poor and the indigent members of society. We have modernised legal aid and we are addressing transformation in the legal profession, increasing pro bono efforts, expanding the range of qualified legal service providers (such as paralegals), and promoting more holistic and integrated justice service delivery.

Transformation of the legal profession in our country is one of the most important factors of a transformed justice system. The Legal Practice Act, 2014 which aim to transform the sector and increase access to legal service is scheduled to come into operation this year.

With regard to Corrections, Honourable Members will recall that the Western Cape High Court judgment in the Sonke Gender Justice matter has, in recent months, put the spotlight on general conditions at our correctional centres, particularly the Big Five centres of Pollsmoor, St. Albans, Durban-Westville, Johannesburg and Kgosi Mampuru II. Despite various challenges, in response to the court order to reduce overcrowding at Pollsmoor Remand Detention Centre by at least 150%, an action plan, implemented in cooperation with the JCPS Cluster, saw the population significantly reduce from 4,066 on 6 December 2016 to 2 465 currently.

In 1991, merely a year after the release of Nelson Mandela from Victor Verster, the ANC outlined its vision for a new justice system in its Policy Document which read as follows:

Without interfering with its independence, and with a view to ensuring that justice is manifestly seen to be done in a non-racial way and that the wisdom, experience and judicial skills of all South Africans are represented on the bench, the judiciary shall be transformed in such a way as to consist of men and women drawn from all sectors of South African society.

In a free South Africa, the legal system shall be transformed to be consistent with the new Constitution.

The Courts shall be accessible to all and shall guarantee to all equal rights before the law."

We have made great strides towards achieving racial transformation. As of December 2017, of the 253 permanent judges in South Africa, 66% are Black (generic) and female judges constitute 35% of the total number. We are also making inroads in the magistracy. As of the end of 2017 Black magistrates constitute 66% and Whites 34%. There are 891 women magistrates across all racial groups out of a total number of 2018, which represents a 44%. Included in this number are the 176 magistrates whom Minister Masutha appointed recently in December 2017. Of the 176 newly appointed magistrates 92% are Black (generic) and female constitute female 58% (all races),

Much more is still needed with regard to gender transformation, especially in the High Court. The National Development Plan calls for the development of criteria for the appointment of judicial officers with progressive credentials and transformative judicial philosophy. It is through the appointment of judicial officers with the right mindset that our pursuit of a progressive jurisprudence can be realised. It is this jurisprudence which, alongside progressive laws of this democratic Parliament and policies and programmes of the ANC government that the eradication of inequality and the advancement of fundamental rights, in particular socio economic rights, will become a reality.

We must ensure that adequate steps are taken to eliminate the risk of appointing candidates who are not loyal to the Constitution and are beholden to racial and oppressive policies of the past regime to the bench.

Madame Speaker, Madam Chairperson

In conclusion, we will continue to transform the justice system and further strengthen our law enforcement efforts so as to ensure that we create safe communities.

As we celebrate 2018 as the year of Remembering President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela: Deepening our Constitutional Democracy, Growing the Economy and Creating Jobs, we will do so bearing in mind the words of Madiba when he said:

Because this is the only place in the universe whose traditions I think I know; my country, my land, my home. Let me end my remarks with Mandela's sermon from Professor K Kgositsile's selected poems:

"Blessed are the dehumanized for they have nothing to loose but their patience"

I thank you.

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