Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) on pending corruption cases from various Departments and Entities

Public Accounts (SCOPA)

11 November 2020
Chairperson: Mr M Hlengwa (IFP)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Standing Committee in Public Accounts

The Anti-Corruption Task Team appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) on a virtual platform to provide a briefing on the status of the Task Team and on pending cases relating to corruption.  
Of the 15 state agencies or departments involved in the Task Team, only four were present in the meeting: The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks), the National Prosecuting Authority, the Special Investigating Unit and the Financial Intelligence Centre. The Committee found the absence of so many members, especially National Treasury, quite unacceptable.
The Anti-Corruption Task Team reported that it was dealing with 223 priority cases, including 13 foreign bribery cases. 77 cases had been finalised with verdicts since the inception of the Task Team in 2010 with a conviction rate of 89.8%. The Fusion Centre had been established as the operational hub with dedicated resources to focus on incidents of corruption and maladministration related to Covid-19 relief funds as they were reported or proactively detected. Since its establishment, 220 matters had been enrolled at the Fusion Centre hub with nine criminal cases and 24 accused already on the court roll.
The Task Team stated that an investment in fighting corruption was an investment in the country and the Team had an obligation to show a return on that investment. If the right cases were investigated and properly prosecuted, it would have a ripple effect across the country and impact positively on investments.
Members were informed that the ACTT relied on strong collaboration between participants and yet there was no collaboration framework. Without that, it was more challenging but the ACTT had been able to bring cases to court, notwithstanding the challenges.
The Financial Intelligence Centre noted that there was a lot of cash in the country that could not be explained. The country needed to recover the cash proceeds of crime. The Centre had large masses of information but forensic auditors were needed at the Centre, and by the National Prosecuting Authority as well as the Hawks, to turn the information into actionable intelligence. Adequate resources were crucial for a successful fight against crime and corruption.
Members asked how the Task Team prioritised cases. Why had the Steinhoff matter not resulted in prosecution? What had happened to the 80 000 instances where the Auditor-General had identified risky transactions? Had there been some filtering? Did some of those areas not fall into the category of cases worked on by the Task Team? Why were referrals to departments not necessarily taken up?
How regularly did the Task Team hold meetings? Which municipalities were involved in cases being pursued by the Team? How functional was the Task Team? What was the level of cooperation between the agencies involved in the Anti-Corruption Task Team?
The Committee requested a breakdown of the cases showing age analysis of the cases to determine how long the case had been with the Task Team, the progress in each case and the monetary value of each case.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson informed Members that the meeting was being broadcast on the parliamentary platform and requested everyone to put their videos on when speaking.
He noted that it was an interesting day as it was Super Wednesday when there would be bye-elections across the country, the first following the massive lockdown. He wished the SA democratic project well and hoped that South Africans would exercise their right to vote. He hoped that all safety protocols would be observed. Parliament had given Members the day off to attend to Super Wednesday. He promised that the meeting would not last too long so that everyone who needed to, could get out to the voting stations. He wished all South Africans who were participating in the elections well and hoped the elections would be free and fair and free from fear.
The Chairperson welcomed Members to the meeting with the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) as the Committee had had concerns about its functionality, efficiency and effectiveness following observations on the part of the Committee and admissions on the part of the Task Team that they had not been meeting as frequently as they should. The Committee needed to tie that down and to advise Lt-Gen Lebeya and his colleagues in the ACTT that it had taken a resolution about the ACTT which would go to the House before Parliament rose for the session.
He noted that the meeting was moving from the basis that the Committee expected the ACTT to be fully functional with the sharing of knowledge, resources and expertise in the very serious fight against the pandemic of corruption which had gripped SA and continued to eat away at the dreams, hopes and aspirations of South Africans of a better life and better service delivery. Every cent stolen from the public purse and every cent squandered had a direct impact on the people and law enforcement agencies were relied upon to be the line of defence and to ensure that those who were stealing and squandering were brought to book, and to do so without fear or favour and without prejudice.
The objective of the meeting was to get a briefing from the ACTT on where things were and how they were going. The Chairpersons requested the Heads of Institutions to introduce themselves before Lt-Gen Lebeya made the presentation. The presentation would be followed by questions and comments by Committee Members. He noted that the Task Team was one aspect in the fight against corruption that the Committee took very, very seriously and he hoped that the Task Team would be able to give the Committee the necessary assurance that it was all hands on deck and that things were moving as they should.
Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya, National Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) and Chairperson of the ACTT, introduced himself and his team, which included the secretariat of the ACTT. Adv Shamila Batohi, National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), introduced herself and her team, explaining that she was Co-Chair of the ACTT.  Adv Andy Mothibi, Head, Special Investigating Unit (SIU), and Adv Xolisile Khanyile, Director, Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC,) introduced themselves.
The Chairperson requested that, before the presentation began, the Committee be informed as to who was missing from the ACTT. It was a concern was that at an ACTT meeting with SCOPA, the majority of members of the ACTT were not present. He acknowledged that certain agencies were present consistently, i.e. the Hawks, SIU and NPA, and he appreciated their regular attendance. He requested Lt-Gen Lebeya to indicate who was not present and to indicate if the agency had presented a formal apology.
Lt-Gen Lebeya informed the Committee that the following agencies were not present:
South African Police Service (SAPS)
South African Revenue Service (SARS)
National Treasury
Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)
Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)
Public Service Commission (PSC)
State Security Agency (SSA)
Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA)
Government Communications and Information Service (GCIS) – Department of Communications
Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD)
The Chairperson stated that it was not acceptable. He understood he was preaching to the converted but, ultimately, the buck stopped with Lt-Gen Lebeya.
He asked Members to note the absences.
Mr B Hadebe (ANC) was concerned about the number of absentees. The Committee knew that the ACTT members had been invited to the meeting and had agreed to attend. He requested that the secretariat follow up on the missing agencies. SAPS, etc were critical agencies. 60% of the members of ACTT were absent. He wanted to know if there were apologies, or if the agencies were just not attending.
The Chairperson responded that he would request the Head of the ACTT to continue with his presentation and while he was doing so, the secretariat would check on those agencies that were not present.
Mr S Somyo (ANC) expressed the appreciation of the Committee towards those members of ACTT who regularly appeared. Members appreciated their commitment. He asked if the report was a report of ACTT as a whole or only of those present. Was the Committee going to get the full picture of the situation? If it was not a comprehensive report, he would have a serious problem in accepting the report. The Committee could not accept a report that was not representative of the entire Task Team.
Lt-Gen Lebeya stated that the ACTT secretariat was following up on those agencies that were not in attendance and he would provide feedback after his presentation. He added that the report had been compiled by the entire ACTT, but focussing on the questions that had been raised. It was a report of the ACTT as a whole, although it did not cover all activities of the ACTT.
Presentation by the Anti-Corruption Task Team
Lt-Gen Lebeya made the presentation on behalf of the ACTT. He stated that his presentation would be followed by a few comments by the Co-Chairperson, Adv Batohi.
Lt-Gen Lebeya began by providing an update on the activities of the ACTT since the previous meeting with SCOPA. There was still an urgent need for a preventative strategy which could manage integrity through vetting and lifestyle audits. Also important was the need for a National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS). The strategy and documentation had been developed and Cabinet had endorsed the submission of the draft NACS for final approval. The processing of the Cabinet memorandum was underway.
A project was launched by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) for establishment of another five specialised courts to address serious commercial/economic crimes, including corruption. The Special Tribunal was adjudicating civil matters emanating from investigations by the Special Investigating Unit. The Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum was launched by the President in October 2019 and the Local Government Anti-Corruption Forum was launched in October 2020.
Challenges and delays in fast tracking cases were experienced as a result of limited capacity (i.e. forensic, investigative and prosecutorial skills), reliance on external forensic accountants, and outdated methods and technology.
Cases referred to the ACTT
Coordination of investigations, prosecutions and recovery of assets on prioritised cases was done through the ACTT. The Priority Case (PC) register reflected 223 PCs, including 13 foreign bribery cases. Lt-Gen Lebeya alerted the Members to the fact that some cases had several legs, some of which were being prosecuted and others not, but ultimately ACTT worked in case numbers.
77 cases had been finalised with verdicts since the inception of the ACTT in 2010 with a conviction rate of 155%, inclusive of juristic persons and natural persons. That was a conviction rate of 89.8% of the cases. There had been nine acquittals. 68 of those cases been finalised between 2014/2015 and 2020. There had been two cases of asset forfeiture. In the first case R2m and R1 377 618 was forwarded to the Criminal Assets Recovery Account (CARA), while a preservation order saw R5 000 200 paid to CARA.
Cases handed to the Fusion Centre
Lt-Gen Lebeya explained that on 8 May 2020 the Fusion Centre within the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) was established as the operational hub with dedicated resources to focus on incidents of corruption and maladministration related to Covid-19 relief funds as they were reported or proactively detected. Since its establishment, 220 matters had been enrolled at the Fusion Centre hub with nine criminal cases and 24 accused already on the court roll.
Effective sentencing was internationally recognised as being a deterrent. Although some relatively ‘good’ sentences were delivered, most cases involved either partly or wholly suspended sentences. In case no 157 of 2015 in which R9m was involved, a good result was achieved. Accused 1 was convicted on 76 counts for a total sentence of  541 years’ imprisonment. His effective sentence was 50 years imprisonment. Seven others were convicted and given long sentences.  Accused 2 was convicted on 15 counts with a total sentence of 153 years’ imprisonment. The effective sentence was 28 years’ imprisonment. Accused 3 was convicted on 6 counts giving him 86 years’ imprisonment but effectively 28 years’ imprisonment as sentences ran concurrently.
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development was conducting a review of the Criminal Procedure Act, through the South African Law Reform Commission, to address the outdated provisions of the legislation and address measures to strengthen efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. Broadly, sentencing was at the core of redress to victims of crime and signalled the seriousness with which the State treated serious crimes. The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and the Prevention of Organised Crime Act were also undergoing a review within the DoJ&CD.
The ACTT required key skills, and processes were underway to secure additional capacity such as additional investigators at the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), and additional funding had been provided for contract appointments at the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit in the NPA. Forensic audit and accounting capacity was urgently needed.
Lt-Gen Lebeya concluded that recent arrests receiving media attention had further demonstrated that cases were getting attention and that there was a strategy to ensure the additional enrolment of cases by the end of the year.
(See Presentation)
Comments by NPA
Adv Batohi added some general remarks. She stated that one had to recognise that the reality of the ACTT in so far as investigating and prosecuting serious complex cases of corruption over the years, had failed. What had happened was that the law enforcement agencies that had been tasked with that work had been given a mammoth task to put in place the building blocks to capacitate and skill the various entities that were tasked with the huge job of fighting corruption, holding people accountable and bringing back the money.
The situation had to be seen in that context. As the Lt-Gen Lebeya had laid out, a lot was happening in the ACTT at the current time. There are plans in the ACTT which was currently looking at skills across the value chain but there were insufficient skills, especially in forensics. In the past year, a lot of building blocks had been put in place but the ACTT itself had also been disrupted by the pandemic and the lockdown. Notwithstanding that, a lot of work had been done behind the scenes. The ACTT was the key corruption-fighting entity but it was a collaborative model in which colleagues sat together and tried to collaborate within the constraints of their own mandates. The ACTT relied on strong collaboration between participants and yet there was no collaboration framework. Without that, it was more challenging but the ACTT had been able to bring cases to court, notwithstanding the challenges.
Adv Batohi stated that support from SCOPA was critical. The ACTT accounted to SCOPA and had respect for the Committee but the ACTT required guidance from SCOPA, as there was a huge mountain that it had to climb, especially as there might be additional budget cuts as a result of the pandemic. She urged that the ACTT and all of its entities have the support of Members as that support was critical.
Concerning the matters of the pleas and sentences, she stated that in the past years, a number of cases had received suspended sentences and the most serious cases were not dealt with or sentences had been inappropriate. The sentences had to address the issues if they were to act as a deterrent. Some of the measures in place in previous years were driving the incorrect selection of cases. Currently, measures in place looked at cases that would have high impact. Such cases were being prioritised, tackled and resourced to make the impact that the Chairperson and the country would like to see.
Adv Batohi concluded that an investment in fighting corruption was an investment in the country and the ACTT had an obligation to show a return on that investment. If the right cases were investigated and prosecuted properly, it would have a ripple effect across the country and impact positively on investments. The Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) was critical in recouping the funds that had been stolen from the public.
She pleaded for finality on the concept of a single unit as the uncertainty of the situation was not helping matters.
SIU comments
Adv Mothibi re-emphasised the issue around capacity. The ACTT was trying its best with what it had but he agreed with the points made about the need for capacity to do the work. All members of ACTT, but particularly SIU, Hawks, NPA and FIC, required resources. Part of the ACTTs work was on the prevention side of anti-corruption. The ACTT had heard the call of the Committee to focus on preventative measures and so the ACTT was putting measures in place to focus on prevention. The National Anti-Corruption Strategy was being finalised and the ACTT should be in a position to demonstrate that it was upping the game. He was heading the prevention strategy and the SIU, in particular, was trying to up the game on the prevention side.
FIC comments
Adv Khayile stated that the law enforcement agencies were using the FIC-generated financial intelligence to investigate and prosecute corruption and to forfeit assets. FIC received R5.9 million cash threshold reports which was a lot of money and the FIC assessment showed that there was a lot of cash in the country that could not be explained. The country was not recovering the cash proceeds of crime. That had been confirmed by the international Financial Action Task Force that had visited the country in 2019.
The FIC needed resources to be able to action the information that it received on a daily basis into intelligible reports. It was also important to look at the gaps in the country’s laws as they needed explanations from people as to how they had come into possession of so much cash. There were many suspicious individuals. She did not want the FIC to be in possession of so much information about the cash that was flooding the country but there was no capacity in terms of forensic auditors to turn that information into intelligence that could fight crime. There were serious problems in the lack of declaring of funds or under-declaring funds at the border posts. FIC was able to generate 2 000 actionable intelligence reports but she had only two forensic accountants to deal with such a mass of information. The FIC and the NPA needed forensic accountants. The Hawks were also in dire need of forensic accountants. There could be no compromise on the issue of capacity. The agents in the ACTT had spoken but did not feel that they had been heard. Conclusion needed to be reached in terms of consolidating the anti-corruption forces. 
She thanked the Committee for its support and assured Members that the coordination had improved enormously. There were plans to resuscitate the ACTT.
Lt-Gen Lebeya stated that he had received an apology from DoJ&CD as the Department was in a Portfolio Committee meeting. An apology had also been received from the State Security Agency. DPSA and DPME had joined the platform.
The Chairperson stated that the agencies had provided explanations: they were not apologies. The Committee had had to go fishing for those explanations as the agencies did not see the need to be present. That was not how apologies were conducted. He did not accept the apologies. He would not set such a precedent. That attitude went to the heart of all the problems that the ACTT had experienced.
He requested attendance registers of all ATCC meetings as he wished to know which agencies regularly attended ACTT meetings and which did not.
Mr M Dirks (ANC) asked how the ACTT prioritised cases. The public domain was making accusations of the ACTT being selective in determining which cases would be prosecuted. In the previous year, he had been in a joint parliamentary meeting between SCOPA and the Portfolio Committee on Finance where the question was raised as to why the Steinhoff matter had not resulted in prosecution. The Hawks had stated that the NPA would not release certain information. The NPA had said that it was not providing information on Steinhoff because it wanted to protect the investments of certain people. That meant that people were able to accuse the ACTT of selective prosecution. The Steinhoff matter had not been prioritised. The meeting was on record and the recording could be checked. The NPA had wanted to protect monopoly capital’s investment. The NPA had made it very clear as to why they would not prosecute. One could go to the original recording for the exact wording.
He added that was the reason that the ACTT was being accused of being selective. Billions of Rands of pensioners’ money had been lost in that transaction and the culprit was known and was out there but was not being prosecuted. That was why he wanted to know the criteria for prosecution.
Mr Somyo referred to the matter of resources. The agencies were using their own resources and some resources were needed in the agency itself. He agreed that some form of inbuilt capacity had to be prioritised. One could not take a case to court as a heightened response to pressure. Some cases were taken to court without ensuring that there was a good chance of successful prosecution. Successful prosecution rested on the requisite capacity to take into account all matters that related to delicate aspects of the case. The depth of corruption led to a need for that capacity.
He noted that, the previous month, the Fusion Centre had stated that a number of cases had gone through that centre and the driver of unveiling information about cases that had to be looked into was the Office of the Auditor-General. It would appear that the Auditor-General had identified about 80 000 instances where transactions were risky. If that was the case, the numbers presented at the meeting looked rather small in comparison with the earlier FIC report. Had there been some filtering? Did some of those areas not fall into the category of cases worked on by the ACTT?
The third area of concern was that of referrals. The SIU made referrals to departments that were not necessarily taken up by those departments. They might refer to disciplinary action that might not relate to criminal activities but required preventative measures. The necessity of the involvement of the PSC was clear. Therefore the absence of the PSC was loud. The Commission needed to track the failures of departments to deal with matters that would lead to the prevention of corruption, fraud and mismanagement.
Mr Somyo agreed with Adv Batohi that the impact of cases where the prosecutorial officials succeeded would be enormous. When one invested in a case in terms of time, energy, personnel, etc, the quantities of investment ought to be specified and should be compared to what was being chased through the case.

Lastly, he had looked at the charts and graphs and noted departments or entities which were visible and ranked high in respect of corruption. He noted that municipalities were at the top of the list, followed by Public Works and other entities up to SASSA. Through Covid-19 expenditure, the country should have learnt something about the usage versus expenditure, time required, the quality of products, and the outcomes of the investment. The focal point of such irregular expenditure was at the municipal level. He wondered about the discipline at government departments in terms of management and accountability and whether it was correctly placed in the hands of public servants. The number of cases taken up had been well-prepared, as the success factor reflected but it looked like there was a need for a singular powerful entity that handled all matters relating to corruption. The call for a single entity to fight corruption had become a necessity. Talking was not the same as doing. It was more than urgent to ensure stability in all the units of the ACTT.
The Chairperson stated that he had some administrative questions. He asked how regularly the ACTT held meetings. Adv Batohi had asked for guidance from SCOPA which was fine and the Committee would continuously do so but he wanted to gauge the terms of reference, so he requested a copy of the terms of reference. The Committee could then give guidance to the ACTT along the lines of what it was supposed to do.
He referred to slide 7 which indicated the 223 cases before the ACTT – an increase from the 189 cases when the ACTT first reported to SCOPA in 2010 – and requested a breakdown of the cases showing age analysis of the cases, to show how long the case had been with the ACTT, the progress with the cases, and the monetary value of each case, as that was of particular concern to SCOPA.
The Chairperson had noted the issue of capacity that came up every time – however, with what they had, things could still be done – maybe not 100%, but strides could be made in the right direction.
Slide 8 showed the top ten departments/entities involved in corruption. He requested that those figures be broken down in respect of each case. Of particular and urgent interest was the issue of municipalities, as the Committee would be visiting municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. He wanted to know which municipalities were involved as he did not want to duplicate work but deal with that aspect of the municipalities while the Committee was on its oversight visits.
The Chairperson was not surprised that the Department of Public Works appeared on the list of offenders but he was concerned that there were six cases of corruption in SAPS which was part of the ACTT and one of the departments doing the clean-up. He wanted to gauge the progress of cases in the clean-up.
Slide 14 addressed the cases at the Fusion Centre. The Chairperson noted that there was more detail than in some of the slides but he required a complete breakdown of cases. The information could be submitted in writing following the meeting.
A particular concern was the extent of the functionality of the ACTT. He asked the heads of institutions present in the meeting to comment, especially those that had indicated that a high level of cooperation was needed. He thought that there was a trend that some agencies were not cooperating and he saw some of the Committee’s serial offenders in the General’s list. He asked for the opinion of each head on the functionality of the ACTT, particularly the sharing of resources, and the shortcomings of the ACTT. He asked for those considered opinions so that, in providing guidance, the Committee did not fire into darkness.
The Chairperson stated that it remained the fundamental view of the Committee that the functionality of the ACTT was of paramount importance, particularly in terms of the pooling of skills, resources and expertise to maximise efficiency and to avoid duplication. That was why the Committee continually wanted to know if the right hand knew what the left hand was doing. Were the stakeholders in the ACTT cooperating?
Mr Hadebe asked whether the other agencies only attended meetings when they were involved. Was the report related only to agencies involved with SCOPA? For example, had SARS not been part of giving input into the report. Were the agencies only expected to attend when the agenda related to their institutions?
Lt-Gen Lebeya responded on behalf of the DPCI. He began with the concern about the prioritisation of matters for prosecution. The ACTT made use of a set of criteria that informed selection. The criteria, amongst others, related to the fact that there had to be an element of corruption in the case itself. There were other matters of national interest, but they were not necessarily corruption. It was particularly important to note the difference between corruption and fraud.
Fraud alone was not dealt with by the ACTT. Another question was the monetary value of the case and the capacity of alleged perpetrators who were involved. Were they senior government officials with power or were they simply administrators at the lowest level? There had to be an indication that the matter was of national interest. Age analysis was another criterion. Cases were selected depending on whether they fitted all the criteria. Those that were not deemed appropriate were handled at other forums. Some issues were handled in the anti-corruption space of the DPCI.  On the current ACTT list was over 200 but there were many, many more cases.
The matter of Steinhoff was not reflected in the ACTT list as it did not fulfil all the criteria, but he assured the Committee that the case was reflected in the top ten cases being handled in another forum by the NPA, the DCPI and the SIU. The matter was receiving attention but it was not at the maturity stage. The forensic auditors were hard at work finalising the details. More than 200 witness statements had been taken on the Steinhoff saga. As the matter was one of the top 10 priority cases, law enforcement had never relaxed and was still pursuing the matter.
Lt-Gen Lebeya stated that the list provided by the Auditor-General to the Fusion Centre was currently being assessed and evaluated as to which would become criminal matters. So that matter was receiving attention.
He believed that the SIU was best to address preventative measures but he informed the Chairperson that the ACTT meetings were held on a monthly basis. Covid-19 had presented a challenge and there were problems finding the best mode for the meetings. However, once members had familiarised themselves with the online meeting platforms, the monthly meetings had resumed. He also promised to provide a copy of the terms of reference of the ACTT.
The issue of the attendance registers as required by the Chairperson also touched on the issue of whether the attendance that day reflected on attendance at ordinary ACTT meetings. He admitted that there had been challenges since 2018. The meetings had not been regular in 2018 and there had been a reluctance amongst members to attend. The matter had been reported to the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) and the DG of DoJ&CD. From that moment, the attendance had improved and became satisfactory. There was a real concern about the reluctance to attend. The minutes and attendance register would reflect those agencies that were frequently absent.
Lt-Gen Lebeya promised to provide the age analysis as requested, as well as the break-down of the monetary areas. He would also provide a breakdown of the municipalities and details per municipality.
On the question of functionality of the ACTT and the cooperation of the parties to the ACTT, he admitted that from a DCPI point of view, the ACTT was not functioning at a level that he would like to see, but the ACTT had identified the areas where things needed to be corrected. Since they had begun to identify the areas, a number of the areas had been corrected. However, there was currently a review of the whole JCPS Cluster itself. Adv Batohi would elaborate on that. There was a review of the ACTT itself, including its function, and Adv Mothibi would share the ideas of the review as he sat on that subcommittee.
He assured the Committee that the ACTT was working on functionality. Regarding the cooperation of all agencies, he pointed out that, as a point of departure, each agency retained the mandate that it had for its respective organisation and in doing the work, they were bound to cooperate and largely the agencies did so as the law obligated them to cooperate. The previous day, ACTT had held a productive meeting with SARS which would work with the Fusion Centre to resolve some of the issues. There were pockets of excellence, but some areas needed further work.
Adv Batohi responded to questions addressed to the NPA. She stated that the question raised, firstly, by Mr Somyo about prioritisation was a very important one because the ACTT was acutely aware that it could be accused of being selective or biased in its selection. For that reason, it had effective criteria that would demonstrate why a particular selection was made. There was a process by which cases were prioritised. Those criteria had been adopted by the ACTT. It was triage approach, appropriate in matters where there were so few resources and so many cases. Selecting the right cases was important to ensure that the case was a good investment.
Adv Batohi said that she was really shocked by what Mr Dirks had said and if that engagement was on record, she would like to have clarity as to exactly which meeting it was. The Hawks and the NPA were working very closely on the very complex case of Steinhoff and, from the day that she had taken office, the case had been a top priority case. There had been no illusion that it was not top priority and she would be shocked if any member of the NPA had said that the NPA did not want to prosecute in order to protect monopoly capital. She found it outrageous if any member of the NPA had said that.
Mr Dirks interjected. He clarified that the NPA had said that it did not want to prosecute and he had raised the issue of monopoly capital.
Adv Batohi said that she would look it up as she would never have said that the NPA did not want to prosecute. However, she explained that there was an issue about the difference between the company Steinhoff and the people, such as the directors. The case still needed a lot of resources but she assured the Committee that it was a top priority matter.
Another issue raised by a Member was that of the skills. Adv Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba from the NPA was developing a skills audit to understand the skills required and the level of sophistication, as well as ways of training staff to acquire those skills. That was an important issue but it was being looked at, even to the point of skills development.
Regarding the functionality of the ACTT and shortcomings, she noted that Lt-Gen Lebeya had referred to pockets of excellence, which was true and there was evidence of some instances of excellency but the ACTT was far away from saying to the Committee that it had reached the level of functionality that it would like. Lt-Gen Lebeya had mentioned the review that was taking place. The JCPS cluster had recognised the need to review its structures and committees and so a review team was put together, which she co-chaired with Adv Khanyile. The workstream was being chaired by Adv Mothibi. The project was underway and she hoped it would be finalised in 2021, but reminded the Committee that it was a very complex situation and a comprehensive review was taking place. Adv Mothibi and his team hoped to point out the shortcomings of the ACTT and get a proper identification of what it needed and an identification of how to become  a well-functioning team.
The ACTT was working reasonably well in respect of cooperation but there was room for improvement. Everyone was committed, but it was necessary not to duplicate functions, and to collaborate and that had to be addressed.
Adv Mothibi responded to questions on behalf of the SIU. The SIU took the issue of referrals very seriously from the point of view of consequence management, especially in respect of disciplinary matters where officials were involved in state institutions. Referrals were made to the authorities, DG or Accounting Officer and the SIU expected the Accounting Officers to take action and make sure that responsible officials were held to account. The SIU did follow up to check whether action had been taken. On the criminal side, the SIU had seen an improvement in responding to the need for action. The SIU had a Memorandum of Understanding that would be signed by the SIU, NPA, DPCI and SAPS. He, the NPA and DPCI, as well as SAPS, had observed an improvement in how matters were being handled. He was satisfied that the improvements would continue.
On the civil litigation, which were referrals to the high court or the Tribunal, that emanated from the investigations, the SIU had end-to-end control of those but there were also actions which required the SIU to work with the AFU. There was collaboration between the two units and colleagues met regularly to ensure that cooperation was seamless. He and the NDPP had been in a meeting of the two units the previous week.
He, like his colleagues, recognised that the functionality of ACTT required improvement. As part of the overall JCPS cluster review and restructuring, he had been asked to chair the ACTT restructuring. He had a team that worked on restructuring which would focus on what was lacking in terms of making the ACTT effective. That fed back into the overall workstreams. It was important to make sure that the restructuring focussed on the efficiencies that were lacking and what needed to be improved, including case selection, referral, investigation teams and the composition of such multi-skilled teams. Monitoring, evaluation and reporting were critical.  If all those issues could be incorporated in the new structure, there would be an improvement. He agreed that there were pockets of excellence where cooperation was working well and the arrests that were taking place were a clear indication that those pockets of excellence were producing results. He referred to the Eskom investigation arrests as evidence of cooperation.
Adv Mothibi stated that the agencies in the ACTT had to continue to up their game and hold those responsible to account and to recover the monies lost. If they continued in that manner, the agencies were bound to see results.
Adv Khanyile stated that the role of the FIC was to share information with colleagues who were in the meeting, advise them and cooperate with them. There had been an improvement in the ACTT as regards cooperation but, at the moment, those below her and below other senior officials were not really dedicated to ACTT matters. The people were dealing with the ACTT matters but they still had other assignments over and above those matters. The ACTT needed people who had the rights skills, who had access to each other’s data sets and people who could move with speed when it came to those cases. However, when an arrest was made, there had to be a trial date and a real possibility of a conviction. It was critical to determine the criteria for taking a case to the ACTT.
An age analysis would show that they had some very old cases and it had become clear that some had to be moved out so that the number became manageable by the ACTT. The ACTT had to be properly reviewed and structured but there needed to be clarity on who the ACTT reported to. There were multiple registers of people in the country but one did not know who was behind trusts and companies or legal entities. When one prosecuted in SA, one needed to know where the beneficial ownership lay so that one could prosecute the correct legal entities.
A lot more work was required on trust and transparency in the ACTT. It was often not clear which Minister was involved and she believed that the ACTT needed certainty of ownership. Maybe a single entity would have the powers of coordination, and also take on the international obligations that came with such matters. Nevertheless, the ACTT was meeting regularly, the intentions were good and she and her colleagues were doing their best.
Mr Hadebe reminded the Chairperson that he had asked about attendance at meetings. If there were monthly meetings, did SARS only attend when a matter relating to SARS was on the agenda, and likewise for other organisations. Were all meetings compulsory or were they based on the functionality of the entity? Did all agencies contribute to the reports or were the reports compiled on the basis of functionality, meaning that agencies not involved in a specific issue were not obliged to contribute to the relevant report?
Mr Hadebe also asked about the public outcry that had resulted from the perceived bias in the selection of cases. He noted that it was a perception that had not been proven at that stage. There were cases where different terminology was used like collusion, internal fraud, etc., while some cases were labelled as plain corruption. Some cases gave those involved the opportunity to pay off the money stolen while, in other cases, that was not allowed. What was standard practice in being allowed to pay back the funds?
The Chairperson referred Lt-Gen Lebeya to slide 13 which dealt with areas of key capacity:
–Additional investigators at the DPCI, and
–Additional funding for SCCU contract appointments and the NPA was in the process of filling vacancies.
–Forensic audit and accounting capacity.
Certain things were not negotiable. The challenge of resources at that time required the ACTT to consider how it was spending those precious resources and to avoid duplicating any work. On the one hand, it was about maximising the prospects of prosecution, justice and the successful recovery of state resources but, at the same time, it was about stretching the public purse optimally by saving costs and not duplicating resources. It had to be understood as a responsible action. The functionality of the ACTT was very, very important.
He requested an update on progress in that regard. He noted the frankness in the meeting on the issue of functionality. Functionality was at the heart of why the Committee needed to keep a focus on the ACTT until it arrived at the point where it was able to inspire the necessary confidence. The ACTT could not operate on an ad hoc basis as it could lead to a laissez-faire attitude. He wanted to know how seriously participants attended the meetings. The meetings were held monthly and the Committee would have to make decision that they be compulsory. No excuse should suffice. He saw how difficult it had been to get the agencies to a parliamentary meeting that day, how much more difficult would it be to obtain attendance at a normal ACTT meeting? The Committee would have to go back to its resolution and elevate those matters raised that day to a structured level.
He appreciated the commitment of the NPA to go back and revisit the utterances attributed to the NPA. The Steinhoff matter remained a serious indictment on the SA body politic from every perspective: socially, politically and economically, and from the lens of law enforcement and justice. It had to receive priority attention or it would embolden others and for further corruption to take place. It had to be followed to its logical conclusion and prosecution had to take place. Arrest and recovery was important to the people who were affected by the Steinhoff actions. It was something that could not fall away and the Committee would commit to cooperate with other Committees to follow it up.
However, the law enforcement agencies were in a better position to pursue the matter on behalf of the people. It was a justice matter and justice had to be seen to be done and had to be done. The Steinhoff cabal could not get away with it as that would create an impression that only public sector corruption received attention. The state did not do business with the state. It did business with the private sector on the extreme ends and with the tenderpreneurs in the middle. In all those transactions that involved government money, there had to be a concerted effort to ensure that people were brought to book. He believed that the NPA had an understanding of the fundamental importance of the matter.
Mr Dirks touched on the matter raised by Mr Hadebe regarding the terminology used in cases of corruption. It affected the work of SCOPA when the terminology was used loosely and, although Members did not always want to argue as it was not personal, it made Members uncomfortable. The Members did not want to make it personal because they were just doing their work. For example, when Committee Members had asked the CEO of Eskom why certain cases were sent for criminal prosecution and others were not, he had said some cases of corruption were unlawful and others were illegal. He was trying to show a difference between unlawful and illegal. It was so glaringly obvious what was happening. He had checked with some attorneys and they had said that illegal and unlawful was the same thing. He reiterated that he could not argue in a meeting because it was not personal but the answer was insulting to Members.  A video was circulating on social media in which the Minister of Public Enterprises responded to a question that he had put. In the video, the Minister stated that not all cases of corruption were necessarily criminal. He repeated again that he did not want to argue with colleagues because it was not a personal thing but he had a serious issue with what the Minister had said because it undermined the work of SCOPA.
Adv Batohi asked for clarity on the issue about NPA saying that Steinhoff would not be prosecuted. Could she assume it was a previous SCOPA meeting?
The Chairperson stated that he would ask Mr Dirks to liaise with the secretariat who would provide the information to the NPA.
Lt-Gen Lebeya informed the Committee that he had been joined in the meeting by the SSR (Security Sector Reform) Unit of the SSA and the DoJ&CD. SARS had sent apologies.
Lt-Gen Lebeya stated that it was obligatory for all members of ACTT to attend all meetings. No one was excluded from the monthly meetings. There was also an operational committee on which the same members sat so that when members sat, they sat in respect of both meetings, one of which was a requirement of the SAPS while the other was a requirement of the JCPS. The operational committee fell under SAPS and was required to meet at least four times a year. The ACTT met every month to deal with all issues of anti-corruption. He noted the concern about Steinhoff being a priority, which it had been since inception and said that more than 200 statements had been deposited which indicated the number of witnesses that had already been interviewed. Where there were statutory obligations for monies to be paid back, that did not prevent a criminal charge from being laid, so the ACTT would not be standing back even in cases where people had paid back the monies involved in a case of corruption. 
He would forward responses to questions in writing as requested. He appreciated the guidance given to the ACTT.
Adv Batohi thanked the Committee for the engagement. She stated that the NPA took accountability very seriously and looked forward to the support of SCOPA going forward.
Closing Remarks
The Chairperson had heard Lt-Gen say that agencies were trickling in but that remained unacceptable. The non-appearance of agencies was totally unacceptable and should not happen again. From time to time, all agencies were requested to attend so that the Committee could assess the teamwork. The point had to be stressed that the Committee was constantly talking to the same representatives of ACTT. That was not a problem, but the Committee had called everyone so that they could appreciate the seriousness of the matter. Trickling in was tantamount to a laissez-faire thing, going up to an undermining and disregard of Parliament and so that was totally unacceptable. It spoke to a by-the-way kind of thing. That was totally unacceptable.
He indicated that the information requested be received by Monday at 12:00 as some requests were quite substantial. However, as Parliament was going into recess, tight timeframes were necessary.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee did not downplay the exceptional work done, but he required that to be the norm. In the reality of SA, there had to be an understanding that there were consequences for every action taken. The Committee did not underestimate the need for resources but the absence of National Treasury compounded the problem because, being in the ACTT, National Treasury should be aware of the problems being faced and should understand the shortcomings of the ACTT. National Treasury was in the belly of the beast and essential to the operation of that beast. He knew that money was being spent to chase after money, but it had to be done. There was no alternative. National Treasury had to face up to the situation. SCOPA was continually dealing with a National Treasury that was removing itself from the situation and that had to stop. SCOPA could not be running after National Treasury. It was not an island but part of the system and required to fulfil its part. National Treasury’s reluctance to participate was unacceptable and had to be stopped. The meeting had gone on and on about resources but National Treasury was not there. He did not understand that attitude of National Treasury. Every cent lost meant that National Treasury had to find funds to replace that money. It was fast becoming a perennial problem of National Treasury not attending and, for him personally, it was becoming nauseating. It was unacceptable that the ACTT talked about a lack of resources but National Treasury, a key player in the ACTT, was not present.
He informed the Members that the Committee would be looking at the information when it arrived on Monday and perhaps update things and send its report on to the National Assembly so that it addressed the issues raised by the members of the ACTT.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would be meeting the following week. The secretariat would update the Members on the programme, especially following the challenges faced in the Eastern Cape. He noted that agencies were sending through apologies but he was not accepting apologies. He would view the messages as explanations.
The secretariat would provide Members with the preparatory documents by the end of the week.
The Chairperson thanked the Members for their participation and encouraged the law enforcement agencies to continue in the pursuit of justice. The arrests that were taking place were good but he asked them not to announce who would be arrested soon but arrest them as it caused him headaches when people wanted to know who was going to be arrested. It fell to Adv Batohi and her team to take the matters to court and to represent everyone well, and to obtain a successful prosecution. He hoped she would do that. He noted that the 700 prosecutors who had applied for appointment would have to be whittled down as funding was scarce.
He thanked the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.



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