Close-up Photo of a Wooden Gavel. Representational Image.
Close-up Photo of a Wooden Gavel. Representational Image. Sora Shimazaki/

Deputy President Paul Mashatile emphasized the need to transform the legal framework and urged a thorough review of areas that need changes in line with the changing society.

Speaking at the official opening of the National Conference on the implementation of the Integrated Criminal Justice System program and the review of the Criminal Procedure Act, Mashatile noted that a lot has been done to address the criminal justice system but it's not enough.

"For many years, the integrated criminal justice system and the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 have had a profound impact on how we handle law enforcement, prosecution, and adjudication in South Africa," he said, SA News reported.

He added, "However, we must examine the current legal framework and identify areas that require transformation or amendment. Our laws must be responsive to the changing needs of society and aligned with international standards."

Mashatile explained that the criminal justice system has been put to the test due to a surge in criminal activities such as widespread corruption, gender-based violence and femicide.

According to the deputy president, the prosecution and judicial systems are overburdened, the correctional service is overcrowded and the "police system continues to be besieged as the state fights to prosecute and punish criminal behavior."

Due to this, the South African government has to compromise on pledges like "zero-tolerance" and "punish at all costs." He added, "Looking at these challenges, it is easy to grow despondent, but we must never be discouraged. Instead, we must double our efforts to reach our desired goal."

Mashatile noted that the government is tackling commercial and serious organized crime by developing several teams including the Anti-Corruption Task Team and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation Operational Committee, known as the National Priority Crimes Operational Committee under the South African Police Service Act.

He further said that the Integrated Task Force has helped the implementation of 205 recommendations for criminal investigations made by the Zondo State Capture Commission, noting that it stands with three convictions secured and 11 cases are currently before court relating to 36 recommendations. Rest recommendations are currently under investigation.

"As we look towards the future, let us commit to further enhancing and protecting this crucial institution to ensure a just and fair society for all South Africans," he added.

The comments came ahead of upcoming national and provincial elections, which will be held on May 29 across the country.