NPA vows TRC cases remain priority despite backlash

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson advocate Mthunzi Mhaga. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson advocate Mthunzi Mhaga. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Published Mar 6, 2024


The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) leadership has continued to prioritise the investigation and prosecution of cases stemming from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) despite criticism.

The NPA’s comments come against the backdrop of recent comments made by former president Thabo Mbeki on March 1, that the government under his leadership had never interfered with the work of the prosecuting authority or stopped it from forging ahead with the prosecution of TRC cases.

If anything, the organisation said the leadership had taken important steps to ensure the investigation and prosecution, in appropriate cases stemming from the commission.

Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga, the NPA spokesperson, said as a result in recent years the authority had reopened and pursued priority cases and even gone as far as enhancing its internal capacity to ensure effective handling of the cases.

As of January, Mhaga explained that 15 prosecutors supported by 32 investigators from the police based in various divisions had been dealing with the 137 cases registered.

To date, he said as many as 21 matters had been finalised with a decision, and a further 10 matters placed on the court roll.

In addition to the appointment of a dedicated team, as part of their efforts to prioritise the handling of prosecution of TRC matters, the spokesperson said they had also appointed advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC to review the measures adopted by the prosecuting authority in dealing with the matters and provide recommendations as needed.

“The report which has since been released and published on our website in February, found that the measures adopted and implemented by the NPA to deal with TRC matters, namely the structure, checks and balances, are largely adequate.”

Mhaga further said that the authority had equally taken note of the recommendations made in Ntsebeza’s report, including the advice for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry.

The report detailed how the independent commission should be set up under section 84(2)(f) of the Constitution, or the Commissions Act 1974, in order to investigate the extent of, and rationale behind, the political interference during 2003 to 2017.

According to media reports, Mbeki has come out to stress that there was no executive interference during his tenure as the country’s president despite a 2021 Supreme Court of Appeal judgment which found that investigations into the TRC cases were stopped as a result of an “executive decision”.

The ruling came about on the basis of the strength of uncontested submissions made by former national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) advocate Vusi Pikoli, alluding to “interference with the NPA”.

“The current leadership of the NPA has on numerous occasions expressed a firm commitment to ensure that there is accountability for the atrocious crimes referred to by the TRC. The recent actions bear testament to this commitment and serve as a reminder that the NPA will deliver on its constitutional mandate without fear, favour or prejudice,” Mhaga said.

The Star