Nqakula: SA has made progress in tackling crime

South Africa, battling perceptions of being an unsafe destination ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, has made progress in fighting violent crime, its safety and security minister said on Monday.

Tackling crime is one of the biggest challenges facing the ruling African National Congress, which blames high rates of violent crime on poverty and other problems that it says are a holdover from the apartheid era, which ended in 1994.

Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said a successful crackdown on bombings and thefts of ATMs were examples of how authorities were fighting crime.

“There are various things like that which surely do not mean that we are unable to deal with crime and therefore crime is out of control,” he told reporters.

Annual crime statistics showed the number of murders fell 4,7% between April 1 2007 and March 31 2008, with 18 487 murders reported in the country of 50-million. The rates remain among the worst in the world.

Nqakula said more than 1,2-million criminals were arrested during this time.

“Of course crime levels are high in South Africa and we are trying to deal with that particular matter,” he said.

Critics say corruption and other flaws in the justice system have allowed many criminals to evade prosecution, with cases often being thrown out of court for lack of evidence and poor investigative procedures by police officials.

South Africa has set an annual target of reducing crime by 7% to 10% and is aiming for a complete overhaul of its justice system, said the minister.

Opposition parties and business leaders say that, if left unchecked, high levels of crime could deter tourism and foreign investment in Africa’s biggest economy and derail its chances of hosting a successful World Cup.—Reuters

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