Investigative Directorate head in the NPA, Hermione Cronje. File picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency/(ANA).
The Department of Justice and Correctional Services has injected R37 million into the new elite crime-fighting unit, akin to the defunct Scorpions, which is to probe state capture cases.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said on Wednesday that the R37m would be used to get the unit off the ground after it was formally established a few months ago.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has already appointed advocate Hermione Cronje to head the new unit.

The special unit is based in the office of National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Advocate Shamila Batohi in Pretoria and besides state capture cases will also probe other commercial crimes.

Lamola said there were no funds available for the unit, but they had to find creative ways to inject the cash.

Other than the R37m, they would provide more details on the funding of the unit when the department’s budget was tabled in Parliament in the next two weeks.

Opposition MPs also said they were concerned about the lack of funding for the unit to probe these cases.

Steve Swart of the ACDP said there was a lot of pressure on MPs to see to it that the cases from the Zondo commission as well as other commissions were prosecuted.

“There is a lot of pressure on us as public representatives concerning those investigations, because I was involved in the Eskom inquiry in Parliament. For me there is prima facie evidence; we don’t have to wait for the Zondo commission,” said Swart.

Glynnis Breytenbach of the DA said she was concerned about the capacity of the unit because most of the cases it was meant to investigate were complex and required specialised skills.

“I have deep concerns about the new investigative directorate and funding. From my experience those investigations cost a huge amount of money. You need audit skills and forensic skills as well,” she said.

Lamola said he had met with Batohi to discuss the budget constraints in the NPA.

“We have had a briefing with the NDPP with regard to the budget constraints and the vacancy rate, which is 20%,” he said.

Lamola said they needed to find some money, including that for Cronje’s investigative unit.

He said the R37m would be allocated to the unit before the Medium-term Budget Policy Statement. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will table the MTBPS in October.

Lamola also told MPs that the Special Tribunal of the Special Investigating Unit would start operating in the next few months.

Judge Gidfonia Mlindelwa Makhanya is the head of the special tribunal.

Political Bureau