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It's time to start prosecuting

Publish date: 09 October 2019
Issue Number: 4799
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: State capture

‘The longer it appears that all forms of corruption – when committed by politically connected persons – are subjected to de facto immunity, the more the current politics of the nation will destroy the hope of building a society based upon the commitments of the Constitution.’ So says the anonymous legal expert, ‘Professor Balthazar’, adding to concerns around the NPA’s failure to charge or obtain convictions in any of the ‘welter’ of cases brought to public attention over the past couple of years. ‘The importance of re-establishing the credibility of the criminal justice system cannot be over-estimated. Without at least a couple of these widely publicised cases being heard in the criminal courts, or at the least an explanation as to why, on the basis of law, certain of these cases cannot be prosecuted, faith that SA can truly restore the rule of law will continue to evaporate.’ In his take on the Daily Maverick site, ‘Balthazar’ adds that ‘absent some accountability for state capture and other forms of high profile corruption, there will be no new political dawn and no reconstruction of an economy to benefit the millions of South Africans who continue to live in degrading conditions, without hope and with an increasing sense of betrayal’. Noting the range of mitigating excuses for the seemingly non-existent progress in the NPA, Balthazar says it does not explain the depressing level of ‘somnambulance’ that characterises the NPA at present. ‘Recalcitrant personnel need to be removed in exactly the way SARS, through its new commissioner, has done. If the disgruntled corps who are suspended and then removed after due process wish to litigate, so be it.’ Regarding funding shortfalls, he says he had expected approaches to the relevant Ministers or the President to procure a deviation from the ‘strictures’ of the Public Finance Management Act to release further funding. He adds that while legal and accounting firms are prepared to provide much needed forensic expertise, the NPA has done little to encourage this ‘much-needed’ assistance. Says Balthazar: ‘While many of the cases that should be brought to trial are complex, there is sufficient low-hanging fruit for prosecutors to pluck, thereby providing hope to SA that there is a criminal justice system worthy of the name.’

Full analysis on the Daily Maverick site