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Friday, 09 February 2024 10:47

'We have a long way to build safer communities but "progress" has been made |Ramaphosa.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to continue to fight crime, and corruption, and to build on the work of the state capture commission. 

Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday evening, in a year the country marks 30 years of democracy.

He was firm that South Africans deserve to be safe and to feel safe, to walk freely and without fear in their neighbourhoods and public spaces.

The President highlighted that during this administration, government has focused on equipping the law enforcement agencies, which had been systematically weakened, to do their work effectively.

This had led to the employment of 20,000 police officers in the last two years. They will hire 10,000 more police officers this year.

"An extra 5 000 police officers have been deployed to Public Order Policing. The SAPS has launched Operation Shanela as a new approach to target crime hotspots, which resulted in over 285 000 arrests since May last year.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele has said they need to get more officers to be deployed to various units of the SA Police Service.

The economic infrastructure task teams have been set up to crack down on illegal mining, the construction mafia and cable theft.

Cele said this year there were 18 task teams that have been deployed in 20 districts in the country.

"The Economic Infrastructure Task Teams that are operational in all provinces have had important successes in combatting cable theft, damage to critical infrastructure and illegal mining," the President said.

Through close collaboration with the private sector, South Africa has seen a reduction in security incidents on the rail network.

"We launched the new Border Management Authority last year to improve the security of our borders and have already stopped over 100 000 people who tried to enter our country illegally.

"Together with civil society, we developed the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence, as a society wide response to this pandemic. Around R21 billion was dedicated over the medium term to the implementation of the six pillars of the plan, including the economic empowerment of women."

The President also noted other achievements, including the introduction of new laws to strengthen the response of the criminal justice system to gender-based violence, as well as the provision of better support to survivors of such violence.

He emphasised that the government's ultimate goal is to end gender-based violence altogether by mobilising all of society. 

"As part of this, we support the call for a pledge that men in South Africa are invited to take to demonstrate their personal commitment to ending this scourge. Women are also in the process of developing their own pledge.

"We still have a long way to go to build safer communities, prevent violent crime, and protect our infrastructure. But there is no doubt that a professional, well-trained, and properly resourced police force, working closely with communities, will make our country a safer place," the President said.

Ramaphosa also said they were cracking down on corruption and state capture. They have taken a number of initatives deal with these cases.

"We set up the Investigating Directorate as a specialised and​ ​multidisciplinary unit within the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate corruption and other serious crimes, "he said.

"Legislation is currently before Parliament to establish the Investigating Directorate as a permanent entity with full investigating powers," said Ramaphosa.

The president said that "great progress" was made in bringing those responsible for state capture to justice.

"More than 200 accused persons are being prosecuted. More are under investigation. Stolen funds are being recovered," he said.

Ramaphosa said freezing orders of R14 billion have been granted to the National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit for state capture-related cases, adding that around R8.6 billion in corrupt proceeds have been returned to the state.

"A restored and revitalised [the SA Revenue Service] SARS has collected R4.8 billion in unpaid taxes as a result of evidence presented at the Commission, while the Special Investigating Unit has instituted civil litigation to the value of R64 billion," said Ramaphosa.