Speech by Charles Nqakula, Minister of Safety & Security, during debate on the President’s State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly

12 February 2008

Madam Speaker/Deputy Speaker;
Cde President;
Cde Deputy President;
Honourable Members of the House

The African National Congress has declared 2008 the Year of Mass Mobilisation to Build a Caring Society, Advance in Unity towards 2012.

The programme of mass mobilisation will extend over the length and breadth of our country and, in true ANC tradition, will talk to the interests of all our people in the various communities where they are located. It will draw all our people, united in action on the ground, into the project to create conditions for a better life for all in South Africa.

The opportunities that exist for a better life for all and the challenges we face will be laid bare for all to see and appreciate so that the good that is there is seized with both hands and the bad is transformed into opportunity.

One of the challenges we will have to tackle, of course, is crime and criminality; fraud and corruption. 

Security for all

The fight against crime has always been part of the priorities of the ANC that define the programme for the advancement of the cause of our people. There has hardly been an anniversary statement, since we took power in 1994, which has not raised the matter of crime and criminality.
In various discussions before 1994, we spoke about crime and how, under a democratic dispensation, that matter would be tackled. At the centre of our crime-fighting project, we put the masses of our people and said no police force, however strong, would be able to do its work if it did not enjoy the support and active participation of the people in the fight against crime.

The ANC this year has called upon all our people to sharpen the anti-crime campaign. Among other things, the anniversary statement said:

“In reviving the culture of mass mobilisation, we must seek active partnerships with civil society, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations and all other formations, to form a broad front against crime and all social ills afflicting our communities.

“We will seek to work with religious formations and traditional leadership throughout the country – from urban areas to the countryside, to intensify the struggle against crime. We also acknowledge and appreciate the ongoing contribution of the business sector in the fight against this scourge.”

The structure and functioning of the different elements of the criminal justice system also received attention during the ANC anniversary, given the importance to the fight against crime and criminality of a properly functioning system of investigations, prosecutions and detention.

You also raised the matter on Friday, Cde President, when you said:

“Cabinet has agreed on a set of changes that are required to establish a new, modernised, efficient and transformed criminal justice system.”

You gave an indication, albeit brief, of how the criminal justice system would be revamped, saying:

“Among other things, this will entail setting up a new co-ordinating and management structure for the system at every level, from national to local, bringing together the judiciary and magistracy, the police, prosecutors, correctional services and the Legal Aid Board, as well as other interventions, including the empowerment of the Community Police Forums.”

The ANC agrees with you, Cde President, that if the relevant initiatives are carried out in an integrated and complementary manner, the fight against crime will be greatly enhanced.

Mass mobilisation against crime must target all forms of crime but, especially those that happen between relatives, friends and acquaintances, and organised crime.

Various surveys that have been done by government and independent entities have been showing that the greater number of serious and violent crimes, where murder often occurs, happen between people who know one another. They occur within the social environment where victim and perpetrator are usually found together.

The answer to social crime, whose victims are mostly women and children, should include a mindset change among our people. Programmes like the moral regeneration campaign should be part of the vehicles we need for the mindset change. That change, among other things, must include a raised level of appreciation of the devastation that is caused by substance abuse. Drugs are killing our children; alcohol is destroying our families.

Those are some of the social ills the president of the ANC, Cde Jacob Zuma, was referring to in the ANC National Executive Committee anniversary statement, when he was calling for the establishment of “a broad front against crime and all social ills afflicting our communities”. We must mobilise for that social movement to fight against crime, fraud and corruption in our country.

Organised crime

Organised crime, as you noted on Friday, Cde President, is a big problem. Drug peddling is part of organised crime; so fraud; trafficking in people; theft of marine and mineral resources; theft of firearms and vehicles; armed robberies; trafficking in endangered species, and theft of copper cables. I have not exhausted the list but, all of the types of organised crime I have referred to affect our people one way or the other.

A revamped criminal justice system must be able to deal with organised crime. It must establish a seamless interconnection between investigations and arrests; prosecutions and sentencing, and imprisonment and rehabilitation. It must be resolute in its campaign to stop organised crime. There must be no mercy for the organised criminal gangs who are undermining the safety and security of our people.

What you referred to Cde President as the “holistic approach towards revamping the criminal justice system in its totality” is a project that must lift up the question of organised crime as one of its main priorities.
We need proper measures to deal with organised crime. We need better human and material resources to achieve our goal in the fight against all crimes, especially organised crime.

You indicated on Friday, Cde President, that there would be interfacing before the end of March between government and parliament on legislation that we require further to enhance our capacity to fight organised crime. You said:

“What will continue to inform us as we take this step will be the absolute commitment of government to fight organised crime and improve the management, efficiency and coordination of our law-enforcement agencies.”

You mentioned in your address the Directorate of Special Operations, also-known-as the Scorpions, one of the law-enforcement agencies that handle organised crime. The other one is the Organised Crime Unit of the South African Police Service.

The DSO has been discussed within the ANC many times since its establishment. The discussions covered such questions as to whether the unit was doing its work in accordance with the dictates of its mandate; the way it carried out its investigations; our belief that there is merit in keeping investigative units separate from the prosecuting services for better monitoring, command and control, and whether it was proper to locate the investigative arm of the DSO within the prosecuting services.

It is now history that the matter was subsequently referred for adjudication to the Khampepe Judicial Commission.

The ANC took the matter to its Policy Conference last year for further discussion and presented a recommendation to the Polokwane National Conference for the dissolution of the Scorpions and the redeployment of its investigators to the South African Police Service for central command and control and the improvement of the coordination of the work of all law-enforcement agencies that deal with organised crime.

The ANC, therefore, is not reckless when it pilots a move to change for the better the strategies and tactics that are necessary to fight crime.

We are not averse in the ANC to revisiting our stance in the face of changes in the tactical terrain to produce better circumstances for our people. We are a dynamic organisation that has always seized the moment to rise to higher levels. That is why we continue to occupy the high moral ground.

The ANC is not reckless when it determines that the fight against organised crime requires a re-look and the better utilisation of the services the country has better to be able to deal with that scourge in a better coordinated manner under the aegis of a single command and control point.

We want to place on the table, therefore, a proposal for the creation of a better crime fighting unit, to deal with organised crime, where the best experiences of the Scorpions and the police’s Organised Crime Unit will be merged. The best investigators from the two units will be put together, under the South African Police Service, as a reconstructed organised crime fighting unit. The Scorpions, in the circumstances, will be dissolved and the Organised Crime Unit of the police will be phased out and a new amalgamated unit will be created.

We note with pride the good work that has been done in the past by the law-enforcement agencies and the many successes scored in the fight against organised crime. Both the police and the Scorpions have done well in that respect. There are many criminals who are in jail serving long sentences, after they were busted by the crime fighting units.

Immigration

Organised criminal gangs are targeting the Department of Home Affairs. Quite clearly, they have infiltrated that department and, therefore, have recruited corrupt Home Affairs officials to supply them with all the country’s legalising documents, from birth and marriage certificates, to IDs and passports.

As Business Unusual, Cde President, a process of vetting of officials who handle the crucial aspects of the work at Home Affairs, must be introduced. Such vetting must be thoroughgoing to ensure that only trustworthy officials are assigned to sensitive work in that department.

We continue to call for improvements in our immigration policies to ensure, among other things, that our legalising documents are protected. We support the department’s turn-around strategy and hope that it will help to obviate all the weaknesses there.

We have noted also that Home Affairs, working with the National Treasury, Intelligence and the police, are developing a new border control strategy. That strategy will enhance the fight against organised crime and stem the tide of the illegal entry into our country by foreign organised criminal gangs.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Madam Speaker, I want to reiterate the words of the ANC president, when he said in the NEC anniversary statement:

“We cannot allow criminality and lawlessness to undermine our hard-won freedoms and hinder the progress of our nation. We must act now, and act together.”

Thank you.