Pretoria: Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha says there are effective arrangements in place to ensure that the work of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is not affected by the inquiry relating to its head.
President Jacob Zuma recently instituted an enquiry into the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Mxolisi Nxasana’s fitness to hold office.
Nxasana, who was appointed in October 2013 by the President, has come under the spotlight after it emerged he did not have the required security clearance for the post. He was acquitted on murder charges when he was 18 years old.
In June, reports claimed that former Justice Minister Jeff Radebe instructed Nxasana, who is from the KwaZulu-Natal division of the High Court, to resign just a few days before President Zuma announced his new Cabinet because of this.
“I want to assure South Africans that there are effective institutional arrangements in place to ensure that the work of the NPA is not affected by the inquiry relating to the National Director of Public Prosecution’s fitness to hold office that the President has announced recently,” Masutha told a media briefing on Tuesday ahead of his Budget Vote tonight.
Minister Masutha said despite being in the news, the NPA has steadily shown significant improvement in its mandate of prosecuting those who commit crime without fear, favour or prejudice.
“Our 2013/14 records indicate that there is an average 85% conviction rate in matters related to organised crime and the conviction rate of sexual offences was 66.7%.”
Reducing the case backlog
Minister Masutha went on to say that the department will continue to work with all stakeholders in the criminal justice system to improve court performance and reduce case backlogs.
Regional and district backlog courts have removed 109 419 cases from the court rolls since 1 November 2006 until the end of March 2014, including 79 081 finalised cases, 26 799 withdrawn and 3 539 cases transferred to higher courts.
A case is considered a backlog if it is in the district rolls of courts for longer than six months, nine months in the regional courts and 12 months in the high court.
About 40 regional backlog courts were approved for conversion to permanent courts and 32 courts have already been converted to permanent courts at the end of March 2014.
Minister Masutha said they will use the budget to efficiently in the pursuit of equitable access to justice.
A total budget of R17.9 billion has been allocated to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development for the 2014/15 financial year.
Of this budget allocation R6.1 billion has been allocated to the Court Services programme, R3.2 billion is for the NPA and R2.1 billion for Public Entities and Chapter 9 Institutions.
The increase in the budget baseline amounts to R101.6 million for 2014/15, R102.7 million for 2015/16 and R413.9 million for 2016/17.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICA OFFICIAL NEWS