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Justice needs adequate funds to function properly and maintain the rule of law

(Parliamentary budget vote debate: Justice and Constitutional Development)

The reduction in the salary budget of the Department of Justice is a reflection of government's apparent inability to uphold the Constitution and protect the public against crime.

A lack of proper funding will be detrimental to the judicial system seeing as expertise is needed to render effective services across a broad spectrum.

The FF Plus welcomes the fact that more funds were allocated to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) must also be helped.

The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture must be allowed to continue and complete its work in the fight against corruption, and enough resources must be made available for any prosecutions that may stem from the Commission's investigations.

Thus, the additional budget package of R426 million allocated to the Commission over the medium term is welcomed.

The significant decrease in convictions of public officials who were implicated in crime over the past few years is alarming.

For the 2020/21 financial year, the number of convictions decreased by more than half in comparison to 2016/17. It does not demonstrate a sharp focus on eradicating corruption.

The NPA was hardest hit during Zuma's rule and the negative consequences are still evident in the large number of vacant positions in the NPA, particularly when it comes to experienced prosecutors. Problems with personnel morale is another indication thereof.

It appears as if the NPA is focusing mostly on cases that are easier to prosecute, across all crime spectrums, in an effort to make its deceivingly high percentage of convictions look better.

The fact that government departments owe the SIU more than R650 million could have serious repercussions.

Without a properly funded SIU, a more effective NPA and the finalisation of the State Capture Commission's work, the government cannot succeed in upholding and protecting the Constitution and the rule of law.

 

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