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Vote of Thanks delivered by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Hon JH Jeffery, MP, at the National Conference on the Integrated Criminal Justice System and the Review of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, held at the Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg, Gauteng, 27 February 2024

Programme Director,
Honourable Deputy President,
Honourable Minister,
All distinguished guests and friends,

The National Development Plan 2030 not only articulates a vision of the type of society which each and every person in South Africa wants to see realised, it also set out a roadmap for us on how to achieve it.

As we celebrate 30 years of our Constitution, this is an opportune moment to reflect on the criminal justice system in the context of the rights enshrined in the Constitution. It is time for us to look critically at the criminal justice system and see where it works and where improvements need to be made.

Often people think that laws are set in stone - old and traditional – but the thing about good law-making is that laws should not be static, they should change as society does, meeting the needs of users of those laws.

That is why we need to also look critically at the Criminal Procedure Act, an Act which, although it has been amended many times, is nearly 50 years old.

Achieving the vision of the NDP requires a well-functioning criminal justice system, in which the police, the judiciary and correctional services work together to ensure that suspects are caught, prosecuted, convicted if guilty, and securely incarcerated and rehabilitated.

An effective criminal justice system is a necessary condition to promote safety and security effectively, but it is insufficient on its own.

Partnerships with other key stakeholders are vital. More is required from us to find sustainable and effective solutions to crime and insecurity.

Active citizenry, an efficient criminal justice system and effective coordinated partnerships with civil society and the private sector are key components of a sustainable strategy for the safety and security of our people.

Inspiring public confidence in the criminal justice system is necessary to prevent crime and to increase levels of safety.

Public confidence is eroded by perceptions that criminals escape the law, that bail laws are not properly applied, that arrests do not lead to convictions, that prisoners escape from courtrooms or correctional facilities or that people who shouldn’t get parole, get parole.

Public confidence is also eroded when the victims of crime feel that they are not supported or treated well by the system.

That is why it is vital to have a criminal justice system which responds to the needs of victims of crime.

This Conference will bring together all stakeholders who contribute to achieving the vision of the NDP 2030 through honest review, developing solution-based recommendations through engagement, and committing to work together to achieve the vision of a South Africa where all feel and are safe and secure.

I want to extend a sincere word of thanks everyone who has already, or will be, contributing to the success of this Conference over the next three days.

Firstly, I want to thank the Deputy President for an insightful address.

Mr Deputy President, your address once again highlighted Government’s on-going commitment to strengthening the criminal justice system and your attendance at this Conference sends a strong message that Government is serious about fighting crime, about building safer communities and building a criminal justice system which instils public trust and confidence.

I want to thank our Minister, Minister Ronald Lamola, for his leadership and I want to acknowledge and thank the various Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Members of Parliament for their inputs into this Conference and the process going forward.

To the members of the judiciary, we can all truly say that our courts have been the bedrock of our constitutional democracy. Our courts have been fearless in its judgments, holding even the most powerful to account.

Thank you also to the representatives of our Chapters 9 and Chapter 10 institutions.

The fact that these institutions have such prominence in our Constitution show the importance with which the architects of our democratic dispensation viewed these bodies.

To our international partners, those in the diplomatic corps and from international organisations, thank you for your unwavering support and assistance to the work we do here in South Africa and in the region.

A special word of appreciation to the members of civil society who are here and will be participating in this event.

The NDP acknowledges and places a high value on active citizenry and we are extremely fortunate, as a country, to have the vibrant civil society sectors that we have.

To the people who are at the very coalface of the criminal justice system, such as the National Director of Public Prosecutions, the senior leadership of the NPA, of the SAPS and other JCPS government departments, thank you for the work you do, often under challenging circumstances and for being here to share your insights with us.

I want to welcome and thank the members of the media.

Many of you report on crime and criminal justice matters every day. Often you are the ones who ensure that the public know who the victims of crime are, what happened to them and you are the ones who make sure their stories are told and that their perpetrators are brought to justice.

Last, but definitely not least, let me welcome and thank the leadership of the South African Law Reform Commission.

The Commission is fundamental to law reform efforts in our country and were it not for the Commission, along with our Department’s Legislative Drafting Branch, this Conference would not have taken place. I want to acknowledge all the hard work you have done thus far and wish you the best for the process going forward.

Programme Director,
The Conference will foster robust discussions and debates to cultivate ideas and solutions to the challenges faced by the criminal justice system in South Africa.

We owe it to those paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy today to ensure that we have a criminal justice system which works – and works well.

I thank you.