11 February 2011
The government will continue to improve the capacity of the police, particularly the detective service, as part of a renewed battle against crime and corruption in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma told Parliament on Thursday.
Delivering his State of the Nation address in front of a packed joint sitting of Parliament in Cape Town, Zuma said the country’s target for the reduction of violent crimes was between 7% and 10% per year.
South Africa had met this target consistently, Zuma said, but more needed to be done.
Zuma said the government had increased visible policing and patrols in identified hotspots. “We are making visible progress in reducing the proliferation of illegal and legal firearms.”
In addition to existing programmes that the government has been implementing to fight crime, Zuma outlined a number of initiatives it will undertake this year, including improving the police and prisons services.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa recently said that restructuring the criminal justice system was a major factor in the fight against crime, and would result in more efficient courts and prosecutors. Efforts have already begun to boost detective, forensic and intelligence services.
The latest crime statistics, released in September, showed that the murder rate in the country had fallen below 17 000 a year.
During the period 1 April 2009 to 31 March 2010, the number of murders in South Africa stood at 16 834, which is 8.6 percent lower than the previous year’s 18 148. That means South Africa’s murder rate is officially down to 34.1 murders per 100 000 people.
Zero tolerance of corruption
Zuma also made it clear that combating corruption at all levels of government was of paramount importance.
Zuma said a Special Anti-Corruption Unit had been established in the Department of Public Service and Administration to handle corruption-related disciplinary cases involving public servants.
About R44-million had been recovered from public servants who were illegally benefiting from housing subsidies, while the cleaning up of fraud in the social grants system was also continuing.
“We have directed the Special Investigating Unit to probe alleged maladministration or corruption in various government departments, municipalities and institutions,” Zuma said. “While not pre-judging the investigations, they prove our resolve to combat corruption at all levels of government and the public service.”
Cracking down on drug abuse
Zuma spoke out decisively about the debilitating effect that drug abuse was having on progress in South Africa. “I have directed our police force to deal decisively with people who sell drugs to children in Cape Town and other areas. We will also not tolerate tavern owners who sell alcohol to children.”
The government would also work with communities and other stakeholders to deal with drug peddling and drug abuse, and the President pledged to do his part to help stamp out drug abuse in communities.
“My visit to a drug rehabilitation centre in Mitchells Plain on Tuesday convinced me that we need more energy in the fight against drug abuse and drug peddling in our communities.”