Politics / 30 September 2019, 09:00am / MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA
Johannesburg - National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi says the National Prosecuting Authority is on a path to renewal.
“Prosecutors and all NPA staff are re-energised and committed to work towards restoring the credibility and integrity of the prosecution service,” Batohi said in the NPA’s annual report.
The NPA report submitted to Parliament revealed that all criminal courts had obtained 260456 convictions, with a remarkable 94.3% conviction rate in the 2018/19 financial year.
The high courts maintained a 90% conviction rate, with 896 convictions (in the last financial year), while the regional courts maintained 81.7%, with 22882 convictions.
“From 2014 to 2015, the prosecutors managed to increase the overall conviction rate by 2%.
Batohi said the report covered the period prior to her taking office, which was marked by allegations of improper conduct by the NPA leadership.
“The NPA has been in a state of crisis due to additional pressures, including financial constraints that led to a fiscal-induced recruitment freeze for more than three years.
“The aspirant prosecutor programme - the lifeblood supply of fresh talent from universities into entry levels of the NPA - has not had an intake since 2016,” Batohi said.
But she pointed out that the courts have continued to function and that dedicated staff ensured justice for many victims of crime.
Conviction rates by the high courts and regional courts represented the highest rate in the past five years, she said, adding that all victims of crime deserve justice, and the attention of a well-functioning and effective criminal justice system.
“However, endemic corruption, which has gone unchecked for years, has affected service delivery and development, and has affected the quality of life of ordinary South Africans, especially those most vulnerable and the poorest sectors of society.”
While it has set itself a 70% target on the rate for sexual offences, it achieved 74.4% - an improvement from last year when it netted only 72.7% convictions.
A total of 4716 convictions were obtained in 6341 verdict cases, while murder prosecutions stood at 78.4%.
Organised crime prosecutors achieved a 94.8% conviction rate, and a total of 294 convictions were obtained in 310 cases.
“Seventeen people were convicted of corruption where amounts involved were over R5million, while 210 government officials and 143 private companies were convicted for offences related to corruption,” the report said.
There was a remarkable 98.2% conviction in environmental crimes, with a dedicated focus on rhino and related matters, which saw 62 convictions in 65 cases. The theft of copper saw 462 convictions out of the 540 cases.
Conviction rates in violent protests and industrial action were under the 74% target, the report stated.