R5.4bn for criminal justice revamp

11 February 2009

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel on Wednesday announced a R5.4-billion allocation for the overhaul of South Africa’s criminal justice system.

Efforts to review the forensic and investigative capacity of the South African Police Service are already under way, and together with enhanced technologies would give a welcome boost to the country’s fight against crime, he said during his 2009/10 Budget speech to Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday.

“A further R5.4-billion is allocated to interventions aimed at improving criminal justice services, the creation of an integrated fingerprint and DNA database, improving detective capacity, [and] upgrading IT and telecommunications systems,” Manuel said.

The funds will also go towards increasing the number of police officials from 183 000 in 2008/09 to over 204 000 in 2011/12.

Funding is also provided for additional policing capacity during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, for building new prisons and for implementing the Child Justice Bill.

In his state of the nation address on Friday, President Kgalema Motlanthe said that crime remained a major source of insecurity for South Africans. “Daily experience, in poor and affluent neighbourhoods alike, is one of apprehension at the possibility of violent attack.”

Motlanthe said that while South Africa’s overall crime rate, having peaked in 2002, had consistently declined since then, it was still not dropping fast enough.

“The fact that incidents of violent robberies in households and businesses have been on the increase, and crimes against women and children have not abated in any significant measure, is a matter of great concern,” he said during the opening of Parliament.

South Africa’s crime situation, Motlanthe said, pointed to weaknesses in building the bonds of community solidarity, weaknesses in the criminal justice system – from investigation of crimes to rehabilitation of offenders – as well as weaknesses in the efficiency of the court system, both in terms of technical and other infrastructure and management.

Source: BuaNews