18 May 2017

South Africa: Condolences to Karabo, Courtney's Families

Cape Town — Justice Minister Michael Masutha has sent his condolences to the families of Karabo Mokoena and Courtney Pieters.

Both lost their lives due to horrific acts of violent abuse, in a week that has left the nation reeling in shock.

The Minister said this when he briefed journalists at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament on Thursday, ahead of tabling the department's Budget Vote speech in the National Assembly.

"Public safety is of supreme importance and it requires that all sectors in society must play their role, especially in the protection of vulnerable groups. The shocking deaths of Karabo Mokoena and Courtney Pieters in recent days proves that women and children continue to bear the brunt of abuse, violence and senseless killings.

"On behalf of the department, I would like to take this opportunity to express our condolences to their loved ones," he said.

Karabo, 22, was allegedly killed and burnt by her boyfriend, 27-year-old Sandile Mantsoe.

The 27-year-old is currently in custody and the court hearing is scheduled to continue next week.

Courtney, 3, was raped twice before being murdered and buried in a shallow grave in Bofors Circle in Epping, Industria, after she went missing on May 4, from her Pluto Street home in Elsies River in the Western Cape.

Her alleged killer, 40-year-old Mortimer Saunders, is in custody and the case will return to court on 24 May.

The Minister sent his condolences ahead of a visit by President Jacob Zuma to Elsies River on Thursday. Police Minister Fikile Mbalula is expected to speak at a memorial for Courtney later this evening.

Minister Masutha said the department was "impelled by such gross acts of injustice" to build a justice system that is focussed on victims.

Department unveils 59th new model sexual offences court

Meanwhile, the Minister said on Monday, the department officially launched its 59th new model sexual offences court at the Thembalethu Magistrate's Court in George, in the Northern Cape.

"These homegrown new-model sexual offences courts were introduced by the department in August 2013 to provide specialized support services to victims of sexual offences, decrease turn around times for finalisation of sexual offences cases and improve conviction rates," he said.

The Minister said in the current financial year, the department will commence with phase two of this project, which entails the establishment of 106 sexual offences courts over a period of 10 years.

Cabinet approved the strategy which is expected to integrate police stations, courts and improve offender tracking.

The Minister said, meanwhile, that in March this year, Cabinet approved an Integrated Criminal Justice Strategy through which all departments and entities in the criminal justice system will integrate.

The Minister said once implemented, the strategy will go a long way in addressing the challenges relating to the management of bail, overcrowding in correctional centres and the optimal use of alternative non-custodial sentences.

He said the department was on course to implement the integrated justice system (IJS).

"The IJS will allow for the establishment of a unique Single Person Identifier and Person Identification Verification application to assist with the tracking of an individual in the criminal justice system through biometrics.

"This system will ensure electronic information exchanges between the SA Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

"These integrations are connecting 1150 police stations linked to 509 courts across all nine provinces," he said.

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