Nelson Mandela Foundation

From: Nelson Mandela Foundation
Date of publication: 15 October 2021

Securing the rule of law, respecting all people, and building trust between law enforcement agencies and the public are crucial for South Africa’s future. This was the key theme of a week-long visit to Munich, Germany, by a senior delegation of South Africans.

Following this year’s Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on the rule of law, the National Director of Public Prosecutions Adv Shamila Batohi of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Deputy National Commissioner, Lt Gen Liziwe Ntshinga of the South African Police Services (SAPS) led delegations to Germany for an intensive exchange programme with their counterparts on the rule of law and service-oriented policing and prosecution.

“We must judge a country by how it creates a safe environment for all its citizens, particularly its most vulnerable people,” said Sello Hatang, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which organised the exchange program in partnership with the German Hanns Seidel Foundation. “Security for all is promised by both the South African and German constitutions, but we too often fail to deliver it for our people.”

Advocate Batohi underlined that if South Africans see and believe that the law applies to all, trust in the state will grow. In turn, international and domestic investment will flourish, jobs and the tax base will grow, and South Africa’s government will be able to deliver much-needed services to millions more people. The delegation included representatives from the Institute for Security Studies, the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service.

During the exchange with their German counterparts, South African delegates agreed that trust between law enforcement and citizens is a crucial precondition for effectively tackling crime. “At the same time, law enforcement agencies can only gain the public’s trust if they perform their duties as competent, respectful professionals,” said Lt Gen Ntshinga.

In the absence of democratic rule of law, a growing economy and widespread public trust in the state, violence, corruption and theft will continue to hold South Africa back.

To prevent this, leaders in government, the prosecuting authority and police must hold those below them accountable – at every level. Dedicated, consistent leadership of this kind, combined with rigorous training and promotion systems can turn South Africa’s law enforcement agencies around. And where disciplinary measures are insufficient to rid structures of abuse, the criminal justice system must do it instead.

Success will be accelerated when dedicated, professional police and prosecutors collaborate as equals to address the country’s most pressing criminal threats, from the top of government to the person in the street, while protecting victims and whistle-blowers.

By embracing these goals and values, South Africa can become the country Nelson Mandela dreamed it would be – characterised by freedom, justice and dignity.


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