No more excuses, NPA told
Cape Town - Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) says its patience is wearing out on excuses provided by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
This comes after National Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Shamila Batohi, said her organisation needed time to crack complex commercial crime cases and fix broken state institutions.
But Scopa insisted the honeymoon was over for Batohi, and it needed to start seeing action.
This was after the NPA said it had only managed to prosecute nine cases out of 881 referred to it by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
Batohi said one of the major challenges for the organisation was that it had vacancies for 700 prosecutors. But since 2015, the NPA’s budget to hire more staff had been frozen by the National Treasury.
The Special Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU), previously headed by advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, also has a huge vacancy rate.
“In the SCCU, the vacancy rate is 21% to 28%. It will take capacity and skill to deal with these complex cases,” said Batohi.
She pointed out that the Hawks also had a huge vacancy rate.
“Corruption in these entities add to the problem,” she said.
“We know what happened to the Hawks in recent times, like the NPA. It’s such a dysfunctional situation. General Godfrey Lebeya (who is head of the Hawks) and I are working very closely. There are initiatives to unlock these logjams.”
Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said the committee’s patience with the NPA was running out and they wanted to see the prosecution and conviction of officials for corruption.
Scopa members also indicated that levels of corruption in municipalities needed to be dealt with. Hlengwa also said there were several forensic reports on municipalities, but officials involved in corruption were not being held accountable.
On state entities and departments, Hlengwa said Scopa had not seen action by the NPA, and were concerned about the figures presented.
Hlengwa said South Africa was emerging from an era of corruption and state capture, but wanted to see results soon. “It’s not an easy exercise, but it requires urgency,” he said.
SIU head Andy Mothibi said the unit had conducted a number of investigations in various municipalities and would in time hand over their report to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Mothibi and Batohi also told Scopa they were now reviving the anti-corruption task team to clamp down on corruption in the state. The task team was criticised by Scopa a few years ago when it failed to prosecute cases worth R10bn in provinces and national departments.