FRANNY RABKIN - LAW AND CONSTITUTION WRITER

A "CORRUPTION baseline report" allowing people to track improvements in the criminal justice system will be released in December by the justice, crime prevention and security cluster, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said yesterday.

Announced at the formal adoption of the cluster's delivery agreement with President Jacob Zuma yesterday, the report will measure corruption in the police, intelligence, defence force, courts, home affairs and prisons services.

The agreement also details targets in the reduction of crime, border security and identity records protection.

"The agreement constitutes government's programme of action in making SA safer for all citizens and residents and to make the country more attractive to investors and visitors ," Mr Radebe said.

It was signed by Mr Radebe, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The corruption report, based on a newly formed database, will quantify improvements in docket security, fraudulent parole decisions, erroneous releases from custody and manipulated warrants of arrest.

Disappearing dockets , which can delay or put an end to a prosecution, are an endemic problem.

The Independent Complaints Directorate, which deals with misconduct in the police, listed in its 2008-09 annual report 51 cases of docket theft, sale or destruction.

Mr Radebe spoke of the roll-out of an electronic "e-docket system" that had piloted in a number of police stations around the country. Justice spokesman Tlali Tlali said the system would make the "mysterious" disappearance of dockets "a thing of the past".

The report will also state the number of people from within the cluster who were detected, arrested and convicted for corruption.

The Department of Justice's 2009-10 annual report lists 23 cases of fraud, 16 cases of theft and seven cases of corruption within the department for the year.

The Independent Complaints Directorate annual report also lists eight cases of abuse of informers' fees, 29 cases of aiding escape from custody, four cases of issuing fraudulent vehicle certificates, and 30 cases of sale, theft or destruction of exhibits.

In the 2009-10 annual report of the Department of Correctional Services Department, 97 officials were found guilty of fraud, corruption and serious maladministration out of the 109 charged - representing an 89% conviction rate.

During the year, R2,5m out of an identified R4,5m was recovered in debts owed by 702 officials who defrauded the department's medical aid scheme. The report will also detail the value of seized assets linked to corruption and fraud.

Another initiative announced yesterday was that the cluster's directors-general will meet members of the judiciary each month to address issues affecting court performance, such as case backlogs.

rabkinf@bdfm.co.za