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The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) needs R250 million extra funding a year to fill vacant posts and achieve its targets, MPs heard on Tuesday.
“We have set really ambitious targets and if we want to achieve them we will need more people,” deputy director of national prosecutions Willie Hofmeyr told them.
“We will need some R250 million a year more if we want to fill all the vacancies.”
Hofmeyr, who heads the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), was briefing Parliament's portfolio committee on justice on the NPA's strategic plan.
“It is very difficult for every department to get more money out of Treasury, but we are facing a real crisis. Between justice and the NPA it is a significant problem at the moment,” he said.
Hofmeyr appealed to the committee to intervene on the NPA's behalf with National Treasury.
He told MPs it was expected that the prosecuting authority would fall well short of its performance target of prosecuting and obtaining sentences on 337,000 cases this financial year.
“This year we are probably going to do about 300,000 only. There has been a significant decline in the number of cases with a verdict in the courts as a whole.
“Both the performance of the districts and the regional courts are issues that we looked at very seriously.”
Acting NPA head Nomgcobo Jiba said a request to the finance ministry for more funding seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
“We are expected to go with what they have given to us.”
However, she said that despite a staff vacancy rate of 12
percent, the NPA realised that its biggest performance hurdle had been its controversial restructuring initiated by national director of public prosecutions Menzi Simelane.
Simelane is on special leave pending the review of the December appeal court verdict that overturned his appointment.
The NPA has, therefore, overturned the changes Simelane made to the reporting structures of its specialised crime fighting units such as the AFU, which was widely seen as undermining their functioning and autonomy.
“We realised that probably the manner in which we were structured had an impact into how we performed our functions. The bulk of these problems had been created by the way in which we reorganised ourselves,” Jiba said.
“We have reverted to the previous structure,” she said.
“In any organisation, if there is too much span of control on one person you are bound to have a problem, because you cannot possibly be able to hold each and every body accountable.”
Democratic Alliance MP Dene Smuts, who led a crusade against Simelane's restructuring, said she felt vindicated. - Sapa