Beefing up SA’s criminal justice system

23 February 2011

South Africa is to inject billions of rands into fighting crime over the next year, with the funds being used to recruit more police officers, magistrates and judges, increase the number of courts and upgrade correctional services facilities.

Delivering his Budget speech to Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said that more than R2-billion had been set aside for increasing the number of police from the current 190 000 to 202 260 by 2014.

This is on top of the R60.7-billion allocated to the South African Police Service for the upcoming financial year.

Gordhan said that a combined total of R12.8-billion would go towards the government’s security cluster, comprising the Departments of Police, Justice and Constitutional Development, and Correctional Services, as well as the Independent Complaints Directorate.

Fighting crime a top priority

The government has made crime reduction one of its top priorities. Although crime, particularly murder, is declining in South Africa, the rates of violent crime in the country remain high, according to the latest statistics.

Staff increases in the police service will support more visible policing and detective and crime intelligence services. An additional R140-million has been allocated to strengthening about 20 trained tactical response teams and to establishing “an effective” personnel vetting structure for criminal intelligence services.

Additional funds will be channelled towards bringing down crime levels, clearing court case backlogs, and integrating the criminal justice system.

Gordhan’s budget brings the total expenditure on public order and safety to R91-billion over the next year, rising to R105-billion in 2014. Personnel costs, including salary adjustments and occupation-specific dispensations, are said to be the major cost drivers.

More judges, magistrates, courts

South Africa also plans to recruit more judges and magistrates, while plans are in place to build 103 police stations in rural areas across the country. More than R4.7-billion will be set aside for this purpose.

An additional R490-million will go towards the construction of new courts, including high courts in Nelspruit and Polokwane, bringing the total number of high courts to 16, Gordhan said.

R670-million has been set aside for upgrading IT infrastructure, to enable coordinate work across agencies via modern integrated systems.

To alleviate prison overcrowding and promote inmate rehabilitation, the Correctional Services budget allocates R243-million for three correctional facilities currently being upgraded to accommodate an additional 1 883 inmates.

Source: BuaNews