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AFU recovers R685m from corruption

Cape Town Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha says in intensifying the fight against corruption, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has recovered R685 million in relation to corruption cases.

The Minister said this when he briefed the media ahead of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development's Budget Vote debate on Thursday afternoon.

He said government's fight against crime remains a key priority.

The Asset Forfeiture Unit continues to be a critical part of the State's arsenal against this scourge. By the end of March 2017, the AFU recorded recoveries in the amount of R685 million in respect to corruption cases involving R5 million or more.

Similarly, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) continues to play a critical role in government's commitment to fighting corruption, Minister Masutha said.

The Minister said for the 2016/17 financial year, the President approved eight proclamations and the SIU submitted five reports on completed investigations to the President.

He said by the end of December 2016, the SIU had recovered R126 million.

The SIU has commenced with the process to reactivate the Special Tribunal, as provided for in the SIU Act, to expedite the finalisation of civil matters, he said.

NPA maintains good conviction rates

The Minister said, meanwhile, that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has maintained good conviction rates in the year under review.

As at 31 December 2016, the NPA maintained good conviction rates in all court platforms, recording 91% in the high courts, 80% in regional courts and 95% in district courts, he said.

He said the department remained committed to expanding access to justice to more communities.

In this regard, we are in the process of building new courts in previously underserviced areas such as Dimbaza (Eastern Cape), Mamelodi (Gauteng), Plettenburg Bay (Western Cape) and the Port Shepstone Magistrate's Office (KwaZulu-Natal).

We envisage that the construction of all these courts will be completed in this financial year.

The people of Mpumalanga will now have a high court division, similar to the Limpopo High Court, which houses various justice services, he said.

A number of key Bills at advanced stages

The Minister said, meanwhile, that the department is processing a number of Bills of great significance and that they are at advanced stages.

This includes the Traditional Courts Bill, whose main objective is to create a uniform legislative framework and to regulate the role and functions of traditional courts.

The bill, which is currently before Parliament, will improve access to justice, as such courts are easily accessible to local municipalities and are able to dispense justice speedily and cheaply.

He said the Cybercrimes and Cyber Security Bill aims to criminalise cyber-facilitated offences including fraud, forgery, uttering and extortion, which were adapted specifically for the cyber environment.

The Protected Disclosures Amendment Bill, the Minister said - which aims to provide greater protection to whistle-blowers � will hopefully encourage whistle-blowers to alert authorities when they come across conduct that requires attention.

The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes Speech Bill aims to create much needed protection for groups that are vulnerable to targeted crimes because of their race, sexual orientation or gender, national origin, occupation and disability.

Much work has been done in terms of the Bill, which was approved by Cabinet for public consultation in October 2016.

It is envisaged that the Bill will be tabled in Parliament later this year, he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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