Pretoria: The South African government continues to take crime and corruption seriously, says President Jacob Zuma.
While increased visibility of the police has contributed to the reduction in the levels of serious crime in the country, more still needs to be done, Zuma said.
“The operations focusing on illegal firearms, stolen and robbed vehicles, liquor and drugs which are regarded as main generators of crime have assisted in crime reduction,” President Zuma said.
He was delivering this year’s State of the Nation Address in front of a packed joint sitting of Parliament attended by, among others, former Presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW De Klerk.
The 2011/2012 crime statistics, released by the police in September last year, show that murder has decreased by 3.1%, attempted murder has decreased by 5.2% and common assault has decreased by 3.4%.
Car hijackings have dropped by 11.9%, cash-in-transit heists have decreased by 37.5%, while bank robberies and ATM bombings have decreased by 10.3% and 34.6% respectively.
President Zuma emphasised the need to promote safety and reduce crime and corruption in South Africa, mainly through improved policing and an enhanced criminal justice system.
“We urge the private sector to also take this fight against corruption seriously so that we tackle it from all angles.”
Highlighting some of the efforts to be taken to ensure that crime does not have a place in society, he revealed that capacity of the Special Investigating Unit , which has been compromised by lack of funds and personnel, has increased from 70 staff members to more than 600.
Zuma made it clear that combating corruption at all levels of government was of paramount importance.
“I have since 2009, signed 34 proclamations directing the SIU to investigate allegations of corruption, fraud or maladministration in various government departments and state entities,” he told the National Assembly.
The impact of the improvements in the investigative and forensic capacity was evident in the improved detection rates for serious crimes.
Criminal Investigations were initiated against 203 accused persons in 67 priority cases under investigation by the end September 2012.
Pre-trial proceedings have so far been initiated against 191 persons. A total of 66 persons under investigation are alleged to have received R5 million or more benefits through corruption while freezing orders were obtained against 46 persons.
Other successes include the arrest and conviction of 107 officials working within the criminal justice system.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit seized assets valued at more than R541 million. A total of R61 million of these assets have already been forfeited to the State which will be channelled back to fighting crime and corruption through the criminal asset recovery account.
Zuma also revealed that funding of R150 million from the Criminal Assets Recovery Account was approved for the work of the Anti-Corruption Task Team which comprises the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority.
“These resources are aimed at strengthening the capacity of these law enforcement agencies in our resolve to fight corruption.”
To further boost the fight against corruption, Zuma committed to fill all vacant posts at the upper echelons of the criminal justice system.