While increased police visibility and improved procedures had contributed to a reduction in the levels of serious crime in South Africa, more still needed to be done, President Jacob Zuma said in Cape Town on Thursday evening.
Zuma was delivering his 2013 State of the Nation Address in front of a packed joint sitting of Parliament attended by, among others, former presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW De Klerk.
Levels of serious crime decrease
The 2011/2012 crime statistics, released by the police in September last year, showed that murder had decreased by 3.1%, attempted murder by 5.2% and common assault by 3.4%.
Car hijackings had dropped by 11.9%, cash-in-transit heists by 37.5%, and bank robberies and ATM bombings by 10.3% and 34.6% respectively.
Police operations focusing on illegal firearms, stolen and robbed vehicles, liquor and drugs, which are regarded as main generators of crime, had assisted in the reduction, Zuma said.
The President said improved policing and an enhanced criminal justice system were key to beating crime and corruption in South Africa, adding: "We urge the private sector to also take this fight against corruption seriously so that we tackle it from all angles."
Zuma said the capacity of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), which had been compromised by lack of funds and personnel, had been increased from 70 staff members to more than 600.
'Zero tolerance' of corruption
He made it clear that combating corruption at all levels of government was of paramount importance.
"I have since 2009 signed 34 proclamations directing the SIU to investigate allegations of corruption, fraud or maladministration in various government departments and state entities," he told Parliament.
Criminal investigations had been initiated against 203 accused persons in 67 priority cases under investigation by the end of September 2012, with pre-trial proceedings having so far been initiated against 191 persons.
A total of 66 persons under investigation were alleged to have received R5-million or more through corruption, Zuma said, adding that orders for the freezing of assets had been obtained against 46 persons.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit had seized assets valued at more than R541-million. A total of R61-million of these assets had already been forfeited to the state and would be channelled back into fighting crime and corruption.
Zuma added that funding of R150-million from the Criminal Assets Recovery Account was approved for the work of the Anti-Corruption Task Team, which comprises the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit and the National Prosecuting Authority.
"These resources are aimed at strengthening the capacity of these law enforcement agencies in our resolve to fight corruption."