Investigations into Master’s Office, Office of State Attorney & COVID-19 related cases

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Justice and Correctional Services

16 March 2021
Chairperson: Mr G Magwanishe (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, 16 March 2021

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI/Hawks), the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) presented a joint report to the Committee in a virtual meeting to discuss the investigations into the Masters’ Office, the Office of the State Attorney, and COVID-19 related cases.

The Committee commended the three entities for their collaboration and joint efforts in the fight against crime and corruption. However, it raised concern about the insufficient capacity and resources to deal with these matters, particularly the challenges presented due to COVID-19 on the unavailability or unwillingness of some officials to provide important information and to cooperate in investigations.

Members questioned why some cases were taking more than 10 years to be finalised, and what measures were being taken to address officials who did not want to cooperate and provide the required information in investigations.

The Committee noted the importance of forensic capability and the use of internal forensic investigators and accountants to successfully prosecute. It emphasised that successful prosecution of these special attention projects could change the face of South Africa’s justice system.

The use of artificial intelligence and technology was suggested to assist the human capacity, to ensure efficiency and so that cases could be finalised speedily.

Another concern was the quality of this report, compared to the previous two reports, as it did not reflect any fundamental changes, and updates on important cases were missing. The Committee stressed the need for quality reports to track the progress of these matters.

The Committee said it wanted to see “game changers” in the reports of entities that presented before it, because this was how it would effectively see a changed outcome. The presentation and reports had to illustrate the changes on the ground.

It made it clear that the entities needed to deal not only with the issue of crime in general, but crime specifically linked to corruption, otherwise it was not going to meet the basic needs of the people, and South Africa would gradually move towards being a failed state. The issue of the capacity of the state must be non-negotiable.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson greeted all Members and officials on the virtual meeting platform, and said the Committee had been informed late last night and early this morning that it must complete the meeting by 13h00, so it would end around 12h50. The Committee appreciated that it had received the presentations well in advance. He asked the presenters to talk to the key areas of the presentations, as the Members had read the presentations.

The Committee was happy the Hawks, the NPA and the SIU were involved in this issue, which it had been dealing with since 2019 and early 2020. This was one of the issues that it was paying special attention to and as a result, for some time, it would be engaging in these kinds of meetings to obtain progress reports. The Committee wanted special attention projects, because if these kinds of projects could be dealt with successfully, it could change the face of South Africa’s justice system. This was one of those projects the Committee had identified as requiring special attention. This was the reason it was encouraging this collaborative effort, and it was happy it was working very well with the NPA, the SIU, and the Hawks.

The Hawks would be briefing the Committee for the first time today, while it had received briefings from the NPA and the SIU in the past.

The Chairperson welcomed the Office of the Solicitor-General, Mr Fhedzisani Pandelani, who was responsible for all the Offices of the State Attorneys. The Committee was happy he was present as this report would touch on his Office.

The Chairperson handed over to the NPA, the SIU, and the Hawks. He joked that Members should not be afraid of the Hawks as they was not there to arrest anyone – they were there on a friendly basis to update the Committee.

NDPP’s opening remarks

Adv Shamila Batohi, National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), responded by first introducing her team. She said this would be a joint presentation which would be presented by Lt-Gen (Dr) Godfrey Lebeya, National Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks), and chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Task Team (the ACTT). It was reflective of the collaboration and the joint working methodology that the entities were adopting.

She clarified the organisational structure. The SIU would complete its investigations with regard to its cases. In terms of the SIU Act, it must refer matters to the NPA. In all instances, these matters were sent from the NPA to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) in order to conduct the criminal investigations. Once this was completed, the matters were referred to the NPA for consideration on whether to prosecute or not. She emphasised it was important to understand the way the legal framework was set out.

She urged members of the media to report accurately on these matters, and not to use damaging language that could threaten collaboration between these three extremely important entities. She referred to an article in the Times yesterday. It was reported that the SIU “dumps cases on the NPA.” She said this was completely false and it was not good for relationships and the collaboration between the entities. She had contacted Adv Andy Mothibi, Head of the SIU, this morning to indicate that this was incorrect reporting. The legal framework had been explained yesterday on how cases came from the SIU to the NPA. This was not for prosecutions, because they must first go to the DPCI to be criminally investigated, and then they would come back to the NPA. She urged members of the media to report accurately and not to report in a dramatic fashion that could create challenges with collaboration.

SIU’s opening remarks

Adv Mothibi introduced the team. He and Mr Leonard Lekgetho, Chief National Investigations Officer, SIU, would respond to questions on the COVID-19 investigation. This investigation was led across the country by all the provincial heads and investigators, which was why some of these officials could not be invited to this meeting. The focus of today’s meeting was on the joint investigation.

The SIU had also prepared the SIU inputs on other non-criminal matters, such as civil litigation and the disciplinary referrals. It had done this for the sake of comprehensiveness for the Committee to ascertain the holistic picture. The SIU was ready to present on this at the Committee’s request, although it recognised that today’s presentation would be on the joint investigation which would be presented by Lt-Gen Lebeya.

On the referrals mentioned by the NDPP, when the SIU investigated and found evidence pointing to criminal action, it was required by law to refer these to the NPA.

On ensuring effective collaboration, the SIU had a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the NPA to ensure that once matters were submitted, they were dealt with as required by the legislation. The SIU Act indicated that once it was presented to the NDPP or the NPA, it should be dealt with in the public interest. It did not state how it should be dealt with, because it must be dealt with as the NPA deemed appropriate, so that it could ultimately make the decision to either prosecute or not to prosecute. This MOU was assisting the SIU immensely, and it was appreciative of this to the NPA.

It had since realised there were other parties, which the NDPP had mentioned, that must be referred to the Hawks. There were other instances where the South African Police Service (SAPS) had come in. The SIU was working to perfect this and ensure the MOU included the Hawks and the SAPS. It would be finalising this soon to improve on the collaboration.

The Chairperson thanked Adv Mothibi. The Committee was pleased with the collaboration because the greatest threat to government was silo mentality. This collaboration was a step in the right direction, as this was how government should be working.

DPCI’s opening remarks

Lt Gen Lebeya introduced his team, and emphasised the collaboration between the DPCI, the NPA and the SIU. These entities would not be able to succeed working on their own. The laws were designed in such a way that they complemented each other. For example, at times when the SIU conducted searches and when it finalised its matters, the DPCI would also be there and would engage with it to ensure the evidence it acquired could be packaged to be handed over to the NPA. When the NPA required additional information, it would direct the DPCI to obtain this. He emphasised the importance of this collaboration.

He was happy with the support provided by the government regarding the resources. It may have been affected by COVID-19, but the DPCI had received sufficient motor vehicles that it was now able to provide logistics for its members to be able to travel. It had also received finance to employ additional staff. By 1 April, there would be additional 103 staff members in the field on a three-year contract. This was the support provided by the government to the DPCI. It had advertised some posts, and amongst them was a post for a chartered accountant who was needed to assist the DPCI, instead of it solely relying on external accountants. It hoped interested candidates would be able to indicate by way of application before the closing date on 19 March.

Joint report: Matters relating to State Attorney, Masters’ Office & COVID-19 cases

As directed by the Chairperson, Lt Gen Lebeya said he would not read through each slide, and would focus on only eight slides.

He referred to the SIU legislative mandate reflected on slide 3. It was primarily based on three laws: the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act, 1996 (Act 74 of 1996), the Criminal Procedure Act, 51 of 1977 (Act 51 of 1977), and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities (Act 12 of 2004). The three areas of focus were the major functions, the SIU powers, and the outcome of the SIU mandate. The major functions were to investigate corruption, malpractices, and maladministration, and to institute civil proceedings. The SIU’s powers included, once a proclamation had been issued, to be able to subpoena, search and seize evidence, and interrogate witnesses under oath. Part of this was the institution of civil litigation to recover state funds lost or to prevent future losses. The outcome of this was to ensure that there would be prosecutions and arrests by colleagues in the environment, the implementation of disciplinary actions by departments affected, and to ensure a close working relationship with other relevant agencies.

He would not go into detail on the SIU outcomes. As a consequence of what the SIU would be doing, in expectation of management consequences, civil litigation would be the first category to be instituted, where there were potential recoveries of assets or an application for preservation orders at an early stage of an investigation where there was prima facie evidence. Disciplinary actions would be referred to other state institutions to deal with those that were responsible.

When it came to dealing with the NPA, prosecution referrals were made to the NPA, who would then also refer them further for investigation. On some of the matters it was collaborating with the South African Revenue Service (SARS), which was among various regulatory authorities to which referrals were made.

The NPA’s mandate was primarily based on section 179 of the Constitution.

The Chairperson interjected to request Lt Gen Lebeya and members presenting from the SIU, the NPA and the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) not to go into their mandates, as Members were familiar with them. Presenters could touch briefly on the mandates, and then move on to the real issues.

Lt Gen Lebeya noted the request, and said the DPCI had been established as an independent directorate within the SAPS in terms of section 17C of the SAPS Act of 1995, as amended by the SAPS Amendment Act in 2008. The DPCI was responsible for combating, investigating and the prevention of national priority crimes such as serious organised crime, serious commercial crime, and serious corruption, in terms of section 17D of this Act. It worked in collaboration with other entities highlighted by the working methodology, and the NDPP and the SIU indicated the referral processes currently taking place.

On the matters referred by the SIU to the NPA for investigation, he referred to the three matters on slide 9. These matters had been reported in the Mthatha area of the State Attorney.

Slide 10 referred to three matters, two of which were in the Eastern Cape -- one in Mthatha and one in Gqeberha, the former Port Elizabeth. One of these matters was in the Department of Justice in the Masters’ Office. This matter had been investigated from Pretoria and it was a case docket that was already reported in Johannesburg Central, with the case number reflected in the status column on slide 10.

On slide 11, matters referred by the SIU to the court were now at court. This slide indicated five matters where the “matter” column reflected the reference of the case numbers. These matters had been reported in Bhisho, Mount Road, Humewood, Zwelitsha and Cambridge. All these matters were at court and the charges on these were reflected in the “charges” column. The fifth matter indicated 19 counts of fraud, and the third matter had 1 count of corruption. The “status” column indicated the dates on which these matters appeared the last time in court. As the report was compiled earlier, some of the dates had not been updated, but all the matters were on the Court Roll. Some of them had been partly heard, and this could be seen in the last matter, where there were 19 counts. Coming back from 2010 and now in March 2021, the case was set to be heard further in June 2021. This talked to the workload that may be sitting on the court roll.  

The non-SIU referrals on slide 12 were matters that were not prosecuted, as well as those on the Court Roll. The second column talked to where the cases were reported. It reflected the year and the amount which each of the matters was concerned about. The charges included both corruption and fraud. The last column on “status” indicated where the interaction between the AFU and the investigators took place. The “comments” column referred to the status. These matters were on the Court Roll and some of them were waiting for the defence to take the matters forward, where the State had closed its case. The cases would be heard in April.

Slide 13 indicated the non-SIU referral matters that had been investigated. The case numbers that were reflected showed matters in Johannesburg, Mthatha and Pietermaritzburg. The largest amount involved was R34 million, which had occurred in Johannesburg. The details of these matters were reflected in the “comments” column. This slide addressed the matters of the Masters’ Office and the State Attorney.

The COVID-19 matters on slide 14 were handled at the Fusion Centre. The entities involved in law enforcement and prosecution joined efforts in the Fusion Centre to deal with matters affecting the finances that were designed to fight COVID-19. These matters included corruption and other related incidents. In this regard, there were 138 incidents that had been registered at the Fusion Centre, with 116 of these matters still under investigation, and 22 which had been closed. A total of 124 cases had been registered at the Fusion Centre, with 99 under investigation, nine were closed, and 16 were before court, with 33 accused persons being charged.

The illustrated table provided a breakdown of these matters as at 3 March. There was an update and some changes, but this would be reported as it was on 3 March. It showed the amount involved in the freezing of bank accounts, which was R145 million, R119 million at the AFU, R289 million at the SIU, and R194 million at SARS. These were the amounts currently frozen, or with restrictions placed on them.

There 59 matters received from the SIU on COVID-19 matters, and Slide 16 provided a breakdown of those that were on the Court Roll. It had already been mentioned that 33 accused persons were appearing in court. These matters were the cases that were currently sitting on the Court Roll, as previously referred to.

The matters referred to by the SIU that were not necessarily on the Court Roll were reflected in slide 19. There were two referrals in the Department of Health, three in the OR Tambo District Municipality, and there were criminal cases opened in this regard. There were municipalities involved in other provinces, as well as some departments on at the national level.

Slide 24 referred to the risks and challenges encountered by law enforcement. Investigation teams in specific areas were under-resourced. The DPCI was working on this with the Detective Services so that the matters specifically at the Fusion Centre that were related to matters under the mandate of the Detective Service, could also receive speedy attention. The resources from the current offices were over utilised, which affected the workload of the officials. The DPCI would deal with this internally and it had invited the senior managers to ensure it prioritised these matters. Capacity was also a challenge as some departments were over-stretched. Some of these challenges had been addressed at the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT) meeting. The supply chain in some departments across government had at times faced challenges in providing the relevant information timeously. Consequently, the DPCI had employed other methods to compel them to provide the information without volunteering to cooperate.

COVID-19 had affected the speedy finalisation on some of the matters because of compliance with restrictions around isolation, quarantine, decontamination of offices, and the rotation of staff to ensure office spaces were not overcrowded to prevent the spread of the virus. Some of these challenges were delays in obtaining cellphone communication and bank statements. The DPCI was working on those regarding bank statements to ensure there was improvement, as it worked through the Fusion Centre, but there were still delays experienced in some areas. Reliance on external forensic auditors and companies was one of the challenges that affected the speedy finalisation of some of the matters. As indicated, the DPCI was in the process of trying to recruit this expertise to work within the DPCI. Those that were in the DPCI were on a lower level, but it required those with the skills and qualifications to be able to testify as experts in a court of law. The concealment methods that criminals continued to devise at times affected speedy finalisation in dealing with the proceeds of crime.

The mitigation actions had been highlighted in the resourcing of capacity. The matter was receiving attention both within the DPCI and the greater SAPS, as well as in other departments. A decision had been taken by the ACTT principal at the Executive Committee to roll out a Fusion Centre model to the provinces. This approach would capacitate the provinces to speed up these matters. The Department was working on the National Treasury supply chain management (SCM) related risks. but in some areas, it was also using the existing law to mitigate the challenges.

COVID-19 was part of the challenges affecting the DPCI, but it had to mitigate these matters and prioritise the DPCI priority case list and the Top 10 case list that the NPA, the DPCI, the SIU, and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) were working on to ensure certain matters could be speedily finalised. On the reliance on external forensic auditors, there were arrangements that had been assigned to the FIC, within the greater Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster, to lead the process of assessing how to obtain capacity within the government. The ACTT had established a training committee that looked at capacitating the resources to deal with challenges to ensure that it improved on areas that it was lacking in.

The ACTT case management committee had been reconstituted. This would improve the working mechanism, as it would be appreciated that in the past the DPCI had been weakened by certain developments. It was working on improving the weak areas as seen by the development of the case management committee and the operational committee to deal with these matters. The ACTT Executive Committee had decided that much closer cooperation was required by different participants in the ACTT. This work was continuously ongoing to ensure this cooperation continued to exist.

Lt Gen Lebeya concluded the presentation and indicated that his colleagues from the joint entities would add where he had missed any information.

Adv Batohi said the SIU had a presentation, which could be confirmed by Adv Mothibi.

She explained the Fusion Centre was not intended to create fusion centres in the regions. The Fusion Centre was at the national level. The executive had decided the collaboration and coordination at the regional offices needed to be strengthened. It was looking at setting up coordination mechanisms to strengthen coordination at the regional level where the work happened, and to ensure there was joint reporting from those coordination structures in the regions to the Fusion Centre at the national level.

She highlighted the challenge of the forensic investigative capacity, and the state’s reliance on the private sector for these hugely important, critical and very expensive services. There was currently a coordinated effort by all the relevant role-players in the law enforcement space which was coordinated by the FIC. Early presentations had been made to the principals on a permanent forensic investigation analytical capability within government, to minimise reliance on private sector for this particular service.


Adv G Breytenbach (DA) asked how many investigators and prosecutors with the experience the DPCI had to deal with these matters, and how they were actually being dealt with. She referred to the matters mentioned by Lt Gen Lebeya at Mount Road, Humewood, Zwelitsha and Cambridge, and said these matters came from 2007 and 2010, and it was now 2021 -- why were these matters taking more than 10 years to be finalised? The quantum was not that huge, so why could it not be done? If the cooperation was working and if, as it claimed, it had the resources, what was the problem? She said there must be a different problem, and the Committee needed to know what this problem was so that it could try to address it.

If the Fusion Centre was rolled out, what capacity did it have to roll it out? She noted the NDPP’s comment that it was not intended to start a new centre. She asked who would be rolling out the Fusion Centre, and who would be doing this collaboration and cooperation. Were there sufficiently experienced people who were not caught up with being in court and prosecuting, who could do this work? For these people, every minute spent out of court collaborating around a Fusion Centre meant that they were not in court prosecuting. In her view, every experienced person must be in court, because finalisations were low and court hours were abysmal. All the experience should be concentrated on prosecuting, so who would be doing all the collaboration?    

Mr X Nqola (ANC) stressed the importance of the collaboration between the three entities. It would face challenges within this collaboration, but it did not mean that the collaboration was not necessary and important for the coordination of the work, so that it was not duplicated. As it continued with the relationship, some challenges would present themselves and lessons were going to be learnt. The Committee must stress that it applauded the collaboration.

On the matter on the Office of the State Attorney in Mthatha, the presentation had mentioned that a prosecutor had been assigned, and then it ended there. The matter had been in the public arena for quite some time now, even before COVID-19. He asked whether the assignment of a prosecutor was the only progress that could be reported on this matter. The Committee should receive clarity on the progress of this matter to enable it to track the progress. For example, a matter that was merely registered and there was no positive progress reported, meant that the work these entities were doing became futile.

He raised an issue with the amount in the Madeira, Ngcobo, and Tabankulu case on slide 12, as all these cases involved the same amount. He asked what was happening regarding these cases, and whether it was the same matter.

On the report on the AFU, it was consistently reported that AFU had requested the docket, but there was no progress report detailing what had been done. Were these recovered goods, had there been any forfeiture of any goods suspected to be involved in a commission of this kind? It was unclear whether the AFU had started the work on the matters highlighted in the presentation.

On the issue of the door-to-door awareness campaign in Mthatha, in the OR Tambo District Municipality, the report indicated that the matter had been discussed yesterday. Did it finally settle the matter yesterday? What was the court decision on the matter? This helped the Committee to track the capacity of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fast-track and accelerate these matters to their finality. It also helped it to ascertain the root of the problem on these matters because if the investigation had been done on the NPA, SIU and the Hawks side, but the matter was with the court administration, it would help the Committee. It was important to ascertain when these matters go to court and if they were adjudicated or not adjudicated, and what the prevailing factors were that were the cause of the delays in these matters.

The SIU had reported on the challenges it faced when it proceeded with these investigations. Amongst the challenges it presented due to COVID-19, there had been no availability of some officials and important people to provide information. In particular, there had been non-cooperation from some government officials, most of whom had been involved in the supply chain processes. This had been reported by the SIU as it related to COVID-19 investigations. He asked what its powers were and what steps it took when the SIU investigated a matter but the person who was supposed to provide important information was evading the investigation. What measures must it take? Was it allowed to apply for a warrant of arrest?

A Solicitor-General had been appointed in 2020, Mr Pandelani, who was fortunately present in this meeting. Part of his investigations were meant to investigate specifically the Office of the State Attorneys, as he had been appointed to turn around this Office. What were the relations in terms of the work it was doing on the State Attorneys Office, and the relations and cooperation with the current Solicitor-General?

The Committee was operating in a very constrained fiscal environment. The more these matters were delayed, the more the little available resources became depleted. He urged the entities to ensure that the work assigned to them was done and concluded within a reasonable space of time. The Committee acknowledged the setbacks that may have arisen in the COVID-19 lockdown process, but it appealed for these matters to be finalised. Part of what became important to Members as public servants was that society was generating a narrative that the Committee’s role was simply investigation, but no one ended up in court or was convicted. Society wanted to see the results of the work the Committee was doing, as government, on these matters. He urged these entities to always ensure that it finalised the matters it was sitting on within a reasonable time.  

Ms W Newhoudt-Druchen (ANC) added to what Mr Nqola had said on the unavailability of officials. She said government officials, or officials from the private sector, and even bank officials had been unavailable to provide more information to the investigators. What were the three entities doing about this? COVID-19 would still be around for a long time to come, including the regulations and social distancing. As the three entities, what had it learned from this experience around ways to obtain the required information, without the excuses that it had received? What were the lessons learnt?

Perhaps the Committee should receive a written response on the Fusion Centre model. She assumed the Fusion Centre was a company that had defrauded the government, according to a document she had read, but it appeared that it was something else. She asked the entities to explain the Fusion Centre model, adding that this could be in a written response.

She referred to the bottom of slide 14, where it indicated the recoveries in the three columns. Under recoveries, was that what the State got back, and was that only in terms of COVID-19 recoveries or were there other previous cases where it had got recoveries? This was not mentioned under the other cases.

The Chairperson said the Committee recognised that Lt Gen Lebeya was presenting before it for the first time, and that the other colleagues had already presented more than twice on this issue.

Going forward, the Committee did not want anything fancy. It only wanted a progress report on what had been done from the last presentation until the date of the presentation, and whether there had been progress or not. It did not want progress that stated that a new date had been scheduled. This could not be a report that came to Parliament -- this should be an entity’s internal management report. He said this report was a report to the nation.

He did not see any fundamental shift between the last presentation and report, and this report. He mentioned one practical example of the former Head of the State Attorney’s Office in Johannesburg, Mr Kgosi Lekabe. There was still no indication on the progress of this case, except that Mr Lekabe’s pension was stopped from being paid to him. This was what was heard when this matter was first presented to the Committee, and the same was said in the second presentation. This was the third presentation, and there was nothing new. The reason why the Committee was calling these entities to continuously present before it, and while it recognised that court processes were slow at times, it was to a certain extent to put some form of pressure -- to show urgency towards some of the issues mentioned by Adv Breytenbach and Mr Nqola. The entities had given the Committee an internal management report, as these updates were not adding anything that indicated what the Committee was meant to achieve by continuously for them. This was something that had to be addressed urgently.

It was quite easy to compare this report to the previous report, even as it pertained to some of the advocates. The Chief Justice and Judge Presidents had efficiency enhancement meetings because these were some of the cases that were key to the nation, especially the issues on the personal protective equipment (PPE), as this was what the nation was very concerned about. Were these matters discussed in those meetings to ensure priority was given to some of them on the availability of judges, dealing with the court roll, and ensuring there were no serious delays? The other issues around resources were recognised, and the Committee would come back to them.

The Chairperson reiterated his concern over the quality of this report vis-à-vis the last two reports, as there was nothing fundamentally new.



LtGen Lebeya said his colleagues would take the questions that pertained to their field, and he would respond to those that related directly to the DPCI.

On the issue of the resources that were associated with the experience and the ability to deal with the matters the DPCI was seized with, it had been mentioned that the DPCI had received vehicles. The DPCI was satisfied with the current requirements regarding vehicles. It was also receiving an additional 103 personnel that addressed the situation on an interim basis. However, on the issue of the resources as a whole, the DPCI was operating with a staff complement of 47. This meant it required more resources. From where it had been to where it was now, there had been an improvement in capacitation. It was still operating at 47% and was moving towards 100%, which would take some time. The resources were not necessarily sufficient.

On the current capacity, the level of experience was the difference. The DPCI had people that were highly experienced, as the cases it saw at court had passed through their hands, and it also had people who had to be trained. This was how an organisation evolved -- those who were experienced and those who were inexperienced must be taken through the processes.

In response to the question on the number of cases an investigator had on hand, he said the DPCI had not prepared for this. There were 21 000 cases in the DPCI, and fewer than 2 000 investigators. This number would be fewer than what it required, with the understanding that one case docket may require more personnel. Citing the VBS investigation as an example, with more than 20 investigators dealing with this matter and the time required, the workload was higher compared to the available personnel. Of these 21 000 matters, there were 11 000 accused persons currently on the Court Roll. This would also explain why he had indicated in the presentation that it was now March, and one case had been postponed to June. It talked to whether the Court Roll was ready to take all the matters as speedily as possible. The workload was more than the DPCI could finalise speedily, but it was working on the resources. This responded to the question raised by Adv Breytenbach.

On the question of whether the DPCI was establishing the Fusion Centre in the provinces, he said Adv Batohi had explained this. The DPCI was talking about the model -- the working methodology, the way in which it operated at a national level. This model must be emphasised at the provincial level. The model of the Fusion Centre was operating at a provincial level, which was where the work was being done. It would not create other centres, but the working methodology – the model -- was what it was addressing. It was the collaboration arrangements it wanted to see taking place in the provinces.

The matter of Section 205 subpoenas being served on some institutions, including the supply chain, was a risk the DPCI had highlighted. Section 205 was designed for those who were not voluntarily providing the requested information. These people would raise some reasons, but these subpoenas were served so that they could be compelled to provide the information. Several office bearers had asked for S205s to be provided so that they were not seen to be divulging information that other people may claim privacy to, or some other reasons. He clarified that S205 was designed for recalcitrant witnesses to be compelled to provide information.  

In response to the issue of slide 14, on whether the reflected amounts were for all types of matters, this slide referred only to the COVID-19 matters handled at the Fusion Centre. The other matters that were not at the Fusion Centre had not been included in this slide. It was limited to only COVID-19 related matters.

Regarding the unavailability of personnel and the work that was being done, in addition to telephonic conversations and written communication, the DPCI as investigators tried to ensure that even bank officials and managers made use of this visual method of engagement. This was what it was doing, because it was not in control of the isolation and other COVID-19 restrictions. It made use of the existing systems to try to curb and minimise the challenges on the unavailability of people because of COVID-19. This affected all personnel, including witnesses. For example, when a certain number of arrests were made, the remaining numbers that were not arrested could be because of COVID-19. The same applied to the congregation at some places such as the courts, but the team would touch on this.    

On the sitting of the door-to-door campaign matter in the Eastern Cape yesterday, and the development of this matter, it had been postponed to 2 June for trial, and it was a continuation of the hearing. The DPCI was ready with all the required preparations for this matter set for trial on 2 June.


Adv Mothibi referred to Adv Breytenbach’s questions, specifically about the legal provisions for the SIU to refer matters to the NPA. He said she had correctly indicated this had been going on for a very long time -- as she had said, almost a decade.

The legislation specifically stipulates -- and the joint presentation had referred to a section in the SIU Act -- that the SIU had to refer evidence which pointed to the commission of an offence to the relevant prosecuting authority. The Act goes on to state that the SIU must as soon as practicable, after it had obtained evidence that was referred to, to inform the relevant prosecuting authority thereof, whereupon such evidence must be dealt with in the manner which best serves the interests of the public. This was how far the legislation went, particularly after the matter had been received or after the relevant prosecuting authority had been informed. This was what had prompted the entities to come together, and to consider the legislation in engaging on how it could improve the collaboration to deal with these matters in the manner that best served the interests of the public.

He said the entities had entered into an MOU which had helped it to ensure that matters were recorded and tracked properly, and that the DPCI was informed where it was to be involved. It had identified a further need to improve on the collaboration by including the SAPS. It currently understood the framework of this collaboration to ensure these matters were dealt with speedily.

In response to Mr Nqola’s issue around the unavailability of officials, as recorded in the COVID-19 investigation, he said Mr Nqola was correct. Colleagues in the SIU had been informed that in the first instance, they had assumed that these officials would cooperate when they approached them with requests for information or availability. Given the experience that officials tended to make themselves unavailable, the SIU would no longer assume officials would cooperate. It would invoke its powers in the SIU Act to subpoena officials when they were required, either for interviews or to produce certain documentation. Timelines were put in place when officials were subpoenaed and when they did not cooperate, there was recourse to ensure they were held to account criminally. It was a criminal offence not to cooperate or not to obey the issued subpoena. The SIU recognised this had helped the situation, instead of simply requesting officials and assuming they would cooperate. Ideally, it would expect state officials to cooperate with investigating agencies, but this was not always the case.

With COVID-19, similarly to what Lt Gen Lebeya had mentioned, the SIU had resorted to using Information Technology (IT) to interview officials, using the available technology. Where there was a requirement to commission or sign off documentation, appropriate arrangements were made following on the technology interaction.  

In response to Ms Newhoudt-Druchen’s question on the unavailability of officials, he said this had been dealt with. With bank officials, the SIU would often request information such as bank statements through the banks, but there had been some delays when these banks were approached directly. This was an example where it could demonstrate the usefulness of Fusion, as the FIC had been helpful in assisting the investigating agencies to access the banking information. The SIU was appreciative of this, as it helped to turnaround these requests quite quickly. A case in point was some of the SIU cases that were done in Gauteng, where it had been able to stop the payments and access the bank information speedily, to stop the accounts of various companies. This was where the Fusion Centre had demonstrated its effectiveness.

Adv Mothibi said he agreed with Mr Nqola, and made a further undertaking that the SIU would continue to ensure these investigations were speeded up. It was operating in a financially constrained environment and the longer it took, the longer it pressurised the fiscus further. This was not only from a fiscal perspective, it was more from an impact perspective that the longer it took, it did not augur well in implementing consequence management, whether it was disciplinary action, civil proceedings, or referral of matters for consideration by the NPA and the DPCI.

On the matters the Chairperson had referred to in the State Attorney’s investigation, he asked Mr Lekgheto to indicate the end date of this investigation in terms of when the SIU envisaged it would be completed.

With reference to the Solicitor-General and exploring other mechanisms, where the Chief Justice held efficiency sessions or meetings, Adv Mothibi said those would be explored because some referrals had been made to the Office of the Chief Justice, and some to the Solicitor-General. He confirmed he was in constant communication with the Solicitor-General and they had agreed their collaboration should lead to where both offices and the agencies collaborated to ensure it dealt with these matters speedily. To the extent that the SIU’s investigation would have revealed the extent of the maladministration in the State Attorney’s Office, it shared the systemic recommendations with the Solicitor-General. As the Solicitor-General did the work of turning around the institution of the State Attorney, it would take the SIU’s finding into account so that it could inform how best to improve the administration and the workings of the State Attorney’s Office. The SIU would continue to collaborate with the Solicitor-General in the interest of improving the workings of the State Attorney.        

He clarified that the SIU had provided the presentations for the information of the Committee. In the State Attorney’s presentation, it had marked in the column the progress since the last appearance before the Committee. Where the investigation had made a finding on some of the advocates and attorneys, extensive work had been done on the computation of the money the SIU could claim from them. This involved the work of the SIU’s internal forensic accountants, and this was amongst others where it had observed, not only for the Office of the State Attorney, that it must improve capacity in this space. It was in the process of doing this, as adverts have gone out, and it was appointing accountants on a contract basis to help speed up some of the investigations. Progress had been made where the SIU was showing that it was ready to issue summonses to those advocates and some of the attorneys involved. Those summonses would be issued in the Special Tribunal. The SIU’s focus was to ensure that as summonses were issued to the advocates and attorneys, it should expect quick action from the professional bodies of these professionals, such as the Bar Councils or the Legal Practice Council, and it expected some action to be done on the professional bodies’ part, given the policies it applies. He was pleased to indicate that the SIU was at the stage where it was preparing to serve summonses against these recalcitrant advocates.

He said Mr Lekgetho could also address Mr Lekabe’s matter further. When the SIU dealt with it, it had frozen Mr Lekabe’s pension, but in an ordinary circumstances it does not simply freeze pensions. It would freeze it with the intention of instituting civil litigation so that when it came to the time to recover, it could also have recourse to Mr Lekabe’s pension. He was informed that the quantification of the matters where Mr Lekabe was involved was currently under way. The SIU would be preparing to issue summonses against him at the Special Tribunal to recover, using the civil proceedings. He was also informed that a criminal case had been registered against Mr Lekabe. Mr Lekgetho would be able to provide the date when this criminal case had been registered against Mr Lekabe. This criminal process would take its course.

On the COVID-19 investigations, he apologised for experiencing load shedding when the question was raised on the Correctional Services matters. He said the investigation on the PPE at Correctional Services had been completed. The SIU had made four referrals to the National Commissioner of Correctional Services to institute a disciplinary process against four senior managers from its own management. The Commissioner had confirmed to Adv Mothibi that he had received the referrals, and he would act on them.

Adv Mothibi concluded his responses to the Committee. He asked Mr Lekgetho to provide further details on the end date of the investigations, the Office of the State Attorney, the Masters’ Office, and on the Chairperson’s question about Mr Lekabe.

Mr Lekgetho referred to the Office of the State Attorney, and said the investigation was envisaged to be completed by the end of August. On the Masters’ Office, the scheduled date was the end of October, and it was progressing well thus far.

On Mr Lekabe’s matter, the criminal case had been opened in September 2020. The investigation was ongoing on this criminal case.

The SIU had obtained a court order to freeze Mr Lekabe’s pension of R4 million. The progress to date was that Mr Lekabe had made an appeal to the Special Tribunal against this order. The SIU was still awaiting a court date to argue the matter.

On other matters where the SIU wanted to make a claim against Mr Lekabe, the quantification process was under way, and the SIU internal forensic accountant was currently working with other attorneys and advocates. This was reflected in the presentation, where the SIU was quantifying a claim that it was making against Mr Lekabe on the loss suffered by the Department.

Adv Mothibi said that although these were the end dates of the investigations of the Office of the Masters’ and the State Attorney, where there was evidence to act, those outcomes did not wait for the end date of the investigations. The end dates mentioned by Mr Lekgetho were the end dates that referred to the submission of the final report to the President. In between, where there was a need to act against anyone who was involved and where criminal evidence was found, the SIU would make a referral immediately. Where there was a need to institute proceedings to recover, using civil proceedings, and where there was need to hold officials or professionals accountable, the SIU did this with immediate effect.  

On the Masters’ side, the SIU was preparing a recommendation to submit to the Minister before the end of this month. The legal team was working on this. There had been some observations of maladministration in the appointments of liquidators, and other irregularities referred to in the presentation. The SIU would make a comprehensive recommendation to the Minister which would enable the Minister and the Chief Master to ascertain the urgent areas of improvement, and it could inform them on the maladministration found so that it could be considered. On the Masters’ side, there might be legislative change requirements that would enable the Minister to bring in some restructuring in this area. The SIU would submit this to the Minister, and since this was not included in the presentation, Adv Mothibi said the SIU could forward this part to the Committee through the secretariat so that it was informed on the matter.


Adv Balohi said she would allow Adv Rodney de Kock, Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, and Adv Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions: Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), to address some of the matters.

Adv de Kock said he would respond to some of the issues around resourcing to add to Lt Gen Lebeya and Adv Mothibi’s responses. There were five areas it was working in where it had substantially changed the operating model of law enforcement. When Adv Mothibi had reported that the ultimate end date of his investigation would be in October 2021, the difference now was that the DPCI and the NPA were not waiting for the outcome of such a report. As Adv Mothibi received information within his investigation of criminal wrongdoing, he was referring this on to the prosecution and to the DPCI. At an operational level, the entities were working closely together so the principle applied was one of sharing of information at a much earlier date. This was what it was trying to define and to improve.

He noted the Chairperson’s point on the way it should report going forward. The operational teams would meet immediately after this hearing to look at how it could conceptualise the reporting so that it could identify all the matters that were receiving attention from other investigating authorities, and to report more accurately on the status of the investigation where a decision had been made by the prosecutor on the enrolment and the progress on the Court Roll. He explained that this was what he understood when the Chairperson indicated the Committee did not want a fancy presentation, but wanted an action plan that would clearly demonstrate progress from one report to the next. The NPA would request its operational team to meet immediately after this session to try and look at how it formatted this, and to obtain all the relevant information for the purpose of the Committee.

In terms of the NPA’s own operational arrangements in the commercial crime environment, this was placed under five areas that had been looked at. One area was the workload of the prosecutors in the Commercial Crime environment. It had identified previously the way in which cases were referred to this environment, created a scenario where the prosecutors were overloaded, and had too much to deal with. He said Adv Breytenbach was correct -- that was the historical position of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU). The NPA had changed the case selection criteria of the commercial crime officers to focus on only the priority crimes, but this was a work in progress. It would link this to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to ensure the work that was not justified to be in this environment was allocated to the DPP, who must take responsibility with the prosecutors in the regional courts to manage these cases. This was a fundamental change in terms of the way the NPA was reorganising its resources. Currently, the prosecutors with the most experience in commercial matters were assigned the most difficult and challenging cases, and they had to have sufficient time available to focus on those cases. This was the one aspect. Working closely with the DPP in a particular province, this also meant working closely with the DPCI, and the co-location model continued. This was an important aspect. The first one was about case selection and prioritisation, and how the NPA wanted to ensure those cases were receiving proper attention. This was work in progress, but a lot of work had already been done to try and reorganise it.

The second aspect was the NPA facilities. It did not have consistent facilities throughout the country in terms of how it dealt with corruption matters in the courts. At a strategic level, through the Ministry and the Department, a decision had been made to extend the Commercial Crimes Courts to all the NPA divisions. This was supposed to happen over a three-year period, but because of the prioritisation of corruption work, this was taking place currently. The areas in which the NPA created the SCCU model and the courts were:

  • Limpopo with an effective starting date of this court on 1 March,
  • Mpumalanga with an effective starting date of this court on 15 March,
  • Northern Cape with an effective starting date of this court on 1 April, and
  • North West with an effective starting date of this court on 1 April.

A steering committee at a national level coordinated this regarding all the stakeholders, including interfacing with the judiciary, to ensure the NPA could establish a court roll for those cases and that it could create enough court time so that when it brought the priority work to the courts, it could get these cases faster through the courts. This was another area the NPA was trying to capacitate differently, to ensure that once a prosecutor decided to enrol an important priority case, it would get attention. This was work in progress, but it must be recognised that these were important developments in trying to change the system and the way the NPA worked.

Adv de Kock emphasised the third area on case prioritisation at a national level. Through the ACTT leadership, the NPA had resuscitated a structure that would look at all the priority cases in the country. When a case which was currently work in progress got on to this list, the NPA must ensure that all the resources, including forensic capability, was attached to that investigation and that there were sufficient resources from the prosecution to be able to do the work. This was the question on case prioritisation at a national level, but on the question of what happens at a provincial level, this interface between the investigators and the prosecutors needed to happen so that there could be a monthly reporting on the progress of those investigations, the potential challenges, and that a case received sufficient attention once it was enrolled on a Court Roll. The NPA would demand that its colleagues in regions provided it with monthly reports to the National Case Prioritisation Committee where this kind of evaluation took place, and where they would hold each other accountable. He said the NPA recognised that things had not been done correctly in the past, and there were things that still needed to change. It was doing its best to ensure it changed the way it worked. The focus would be on doing the right things at the right time and getting the important work into the courts so that they could get the cases finalised.

The fourth area was on capacitation and resourcing. The SCCU had currently filled 154 prosecutorial posts. In 2020, the NPA had gone on a drive to get these posts, which were permanent positions, filled. The NPA had requested Treasury to do a deviation so that it could appoint contract prosecutors on a three-year contract basis. He clarified this was the difference in terms of what the NPA was currently doing. Currently, the NPA had 21 state advocates who had been appointed on a three-year contract as an addition to the 154 filled prosecutorial posts within the Commercial Crime environment. This was a substantial increase to the capacity of those offices. He clarified that all the appointments had been placed in the regions where the work happened. For example, in the North West, it had gone from two prosecutors to nine prosecutors, but the NPA wanted to increase this by an additional five prosecutors, which would bring the total to 14 prosecutors. This was what the NPA was trying to do throughout the country. He clarified that he was outlining the additional work that was being done and how the NPA was trying to change the operating model between itself, the DPCI and the SIU, in terms of focusing and identifying all priority work to ensure experienced quality prosecutors were assigned to those cases.

Adv de Kock asked Adv Lebo Baloyi, the newly appointed Special Director of the SCCU at the National Office, to speak on the issues around the actual cases raised by the Committee. He said the NPA had done a lot to reconfigure and support the national capacity of the SCCU.  

Adv Baloyi responded to Mr Nqola’s question on slide 12 about the same amounts of R15 million reflected for the matters. She said that although there were different incidents relating to the commission of the offences, the reason for the same amounts was because it was the same accused persons in these matters. The allegations of fraud and corruption relating to the amount of R15 million were committed in four different incidents. It was the same accused persons appearing in court on one trial concerning all these matters and all the incidents. It might be that the NPA had different case docket numbers, but the prosecutors had decided they should try these accused persons all in one trial. This was the reason for the similar amounts and different case numbers -- but it was the same accused persons in these matters.

She said the other questions on the cases had been responded to by Lt Gen Lebeya and Mr Lekgetho. On the door-to-door case, it had been confirmed it was postponed until 8 June. The matter relating to the former State Attorney was currently under investigation.      

Adv Rabaji-Rasethaba said she would deal with the issues raised by Mr Nqola and Adv Breytenbach, and the Special Director, Head of Operations, would deal with case specific issues. She explained the work that was done in the AFU, to remind Members that forfeiture could proceed in two ways: either criminal forfeiture, that must take place after conviction; or it could proceed in terms of Chapter 6, which was civil forfeiture. It must still show reasonable grounds to believe that this was the proceeds of crime, or that there was an instrumentality of an offence. In both instances, there must be a very solid criminal investigation before the AFU investigators could come in and do a financial analysis. It could then proceed to court and pass those jurisdiciary requirements before it could get an order.

It was concerned that it seemed it was not making progress. She said the challenge with the AFU was that assets would be dissipated if it did not get in early in the investigation. It had noted that the Committee was not happy with the quality of the reports, and it would show progress in these matters at its next appearance. 

She said Adv Breytenbach had mentioned game-changers, which was an issue that Adv Rabaji-Rasethaba said really challenged her. Immediately after this meeting, she would meet with the NDPP and Lt Gen Lebeya to discuss how it could ensure the AFU got in very early in the discussions with the DPCI. In the past, this was a game-changer, and this was the reason the AFU could boast 600 decided cases that had gone up to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and the Constitutional Court, and had created sound jurisprudence in this country. This was primarily because of the co-location with the DPCI, which she had started when she was a Special Director in the AFU with Lt Gen Lebeya, when he was a Commissioner. The DPCI was co-located with AFU and in the ten years, which would be the next report presented to Parliament, it showed that for every cent spent on an employee in the AFU, there had been a return on investment. She clarified that it was going back to what had made it successful.

She said she had come in eight months ago, and this issue had been discussed before then. The AFU had a 35% vacancy rate, and there were only three regional heads. This meant there was no presence in the provinces of the AFU. It had senior state advocates who acted as regional heads, but the office was not capacitated at all. It was in the process of filling all these posts, and it currently had 43 contractors, and it had received approval in January to appoint six regional heads. The footprint would increase, and it would be able to tackle all the cases that were also in the provinces. The point was that it was fast-tracking these appointments, and in the meantime, it could obtain resources to capacitate the regions with contractors.

She handed over to Adv Priya Biseswar, Special Director of Public Prosecutions: AFU, to address issues on specific cases.

Adv Biseswar referred to slides 11 and 12 on the matters in court. She said the matters had been referred to the AFU, and the AFU regional heads were assessing the AFU’s potential in the matters concerning doing basic asset searches to ascertain whether there were any assets available. It would proceed to act in the matters if there was AFU potential.

On the matters that were referred to the NPA by the SIU, prosecutors were appointed to guide investigations. The investigations in these matters were at a relatively early stage, and the AFU had been made aware of these matters and were monitoring them to ascertain if at any stage during the investigations, there could be any asset forfeiture action taken.

In conclusion, she said the matters were being monitored, asset forfeiture potential was being ascertained, and within the next two weeks it should have a good idea whether there was potential in these matters for recovery.  

The Chairperson said it would be important for the NPA to update the Committee on all the senior advocates such as Adv Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who had been appointed to advise on corruption cases. What had happened to those advocates? What had been their impact on this crime fighting crusade?

Adv Batohi said that the NDPP conceded that, as Adv Breytenbach had said, things were not rosy, but it was largely under control. This must be looked at on two levels -- the strategic and the operational level. At a strategic level, there had been a major fundamental shift where the focus was now exclusively on justice and accountability. This had not been the case in the past. The focus was not on protecting people, it was on holding those most responsible accountable for what had happened in the country. This was a very fundamental, and a hugely important strategic shift. She was happy her three principal colleagues in this meeting shared this vision in terms of the fundamental shift in the work of the NPA.

At an operational level, she conceded there were challenges, but the important issue to consider was that her colleagues at the operational level were working extremely hard to enhance the various methodologies of operations to enhance the prioritisation, as mentioned by Adv de Kock, which was an important issue. She said the NPA could not do everything -- it had to prioritise and ensure that, at least with regard to the prioritisation criteria for cases, there were sufficient resources and impetus to ensure that it acted with speed, as mentioned by Mr Nqola, and that there was impact.

At a high level, these were the really important changes. It recognised there were huge challenges, even at the operational level, and at the Fusion Centre, which the NPA was required to report on today, there was a recognition amongst the principals that cases were not moving as fast as they would like them to. The Committee had asked the right questions, and the principals were acutely aware and would like these cases to move more quickly as well. Recognising this, it had had a meeting about two or three weeks ago where the focus was looking at challenges faced in the Fusion Centre and the measures that could be put in place to address these challenges. This was a very constructive meeting, and Lt Gen Lebeya had already mentioned the challenges that had been identified and the measures that were needed to address it.

The issue of collaboration was working well, but the NPA recognised that it could enhance it and that more needed to be done. The principals would be meeting soon to try to unpack this and unlock some of the challenges they may be facing. She agreed with Adv Breytenbach -- perhaps there had been collaboration that had worked well towards different objectives in the past. Currently there was good collaboration, but they could certainly improve on this.

She said Adv de Kock had dealt with the matters of reporting and how the NPA reported. The NPA would look at how it could improve its reporting so that the Committee was able to do its work of holding it accountable in terms of its particular mandates.

On the Steinhoff matter, she said the NPA was surprised at the way the matter was being reported on in terms of the NPA receiving money for the forensic investigations that were being conducted. She said it would have been useful for the correct facts to be established, and for the NPA to be given an opportunity by the media, which it often was, to make this clear in terms of the actual factual position -- that the NPA did not receive any money, and that this was a matter that forensic investigations lay within the realms of the DPCI, and there was a history to this. The NPA had set out a fact sheet which outlined its exact position and released it to the media, and it would forward this to the secretariat for the Committee so that this could be circulated.

She said there would never be enough resources. This was the reason for the NDPP’s emphasis on the issue of prioritisation. Lt Gen Lebeya had raised the issue of 21 000 cases and fewer than 2 000 investigators. In all these cases, as mentioned yesterday when the NPA appeared before the Select Committee of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), the NPA and the DPCI had been joined at the hip. The capacitation of the DPCI was critical for the NPA to win the battle against corruption. Lt Gen Lebeya had explained what steps were being taken to capacitate, but the reality was that it was nowhere near having all the capacity it needed to deal with all the challenges and a large percentage of the cases that were before it. The prioritisation happening in the ACTT space was hugely important in terms of selecting the right cases, ensuring the resources were available, and that those cases at least moved forward in terms of making impact. The NPA recognised Mr Nqola’s plea to ensure it moved with speed, at least on those cases.

The issue of the advocates and the Investigating Directorate (ID) fell squarely within the Investigating Directorate space. She said not all the advocates had been working with the ID, and it may be that only one of them was working closely with the ID. She requested to respond to this in writing so that she could obtain all the factual details from Adv Cronje and respond to this matter.

She concluded her responses and handed over to the Chairperson.

The Chairperson asked about the response to his question on the four advocates, including Adv Ngcukaitobi, who had been had been appointed to assist in the fight against corruption. He said the Committee had not received any progress report on this matter in terms of these advocates’ contribution.

The NDPP responded that the ID was not involved in any these cases that the NPA reported on today. Its primary focus was on certain state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and none of these cases were in the ID space.

She was aware that not all of the advocates were brought on board as the NPA had originally envisaged. She asked to get the details on this from Adv Cronje, and to respond to this in writing.

On the issue of the efficiency enhancing committees at the provincial and national level raised by the chairperson, the NDPP said these committees had been established, as the name suggested, to enhance efficiency in the courts in the criminal justice system. There were varying degrees of success with the Provincial Efficiency Enhancement Committees (PEECs) as some were working well and others were not. This was a challenge the NPA was facing. These were chaired by the judiciary, and this was a challenge in terms of all of them not functioning optimally. She said the National Efficiency Enhancement Committee was not really functioning, and there was a lot of work to be done in this space so that there could be more direction and guidance from the national level to enhance efficiency. Efficiency in the courts was a very complicated issue and it seemed this was an age-old problem. There were various backlog projects where the NPA was working closely with the Department of Justice with the new Minister to try and enhance efficiency in the courts, the modernisation of the courts, and better use of technology.

Chairperson’s closing remarks

The Chairperson thanked Lt-Gen Lebeya, Adv Batohi and Adv Mothibi, and their teams for the updates on this important matter to which the Committee had decided to pay special attention. He recognised the Law Society of South Africa (LASA) had been present on the platform. He said the Committee owed it a meeting, as it had been asking for one. The Committee’s programme had been full because of the GBV legislation. Once this was done, the Committee would ensure it met with the Law Society, with the Legal Practice Council, and the Bar Councils, because there was a developing phenomenon in the country where several legal professionals were involved in shenanigans. If this matter was not attended to, it was one area that could cause a serious threat to the functioning of the justice system, and to social cohesion in general. The Committee also wanted to have this kind of discussion with the Legal Practice Council.

The issue around 17 law firms that were being investigated for being involved in some shenanigans had been mentioned in the documents presented, as well as when the Solicitor-General presented to the Committee. There was widespread concern from the Committee that it must have this engagement with the Legal Practice Council, and it was interested in having this discussion.

The Committee recognised that it owed Adv Rabaji-Rasethaba a meeting, and it had been in contact with the NDPP. An important question had been raised some time in 2020 by Ms J Mofokeng (ANC), that the longer it took to effect these asset forfeiture orders, the more the assets lost their value. The Committee recognised that the AFU had experienced challenges for some time, and it agreed it would meet with Adv Rabaji-Rasethaba as the new head so that she could share the strategies to revise this unit.

He said Adv Breytenbach had summed up what the Committee really wanted to see. It wanted to see game changers in how it reported and in what was being reported, because this was how it would effectively see a changed outcome. This was important for every entity that presented to the Committee, so that the Committee did not spend time simply listening to presenters. The presentations and reports must illustrate how it would change the game. He said the Committee was not being ritualistic in meeting with the NDPP and the SIU. It wanted a game-changer.

From the SIU, the Committee wanted its “gentleman’s approach” -- which it had agreed, by its own admission, was not working as part of the game-changer -- to go away. It could not have officials that did not collaborate with investigations. During this entire period when Adv Mothibi and his team were gentlemen, how much time, money and goodwill had been lost? He said the time of being gentlemen was over. The law had given it power, and this power must be used as long as it was not abused. It must be used to ensure it achieved a society where wrongdoing was not condoned, and where people were afraid of doing wrong because they recognised that they would be apprehended, face consequences, and that they would be jailed. He said that even if there was a minimum sentence of 3 000 years, as long as people knew the chances of them being apprehended were zero, this would not serve as a deterrent. When people understood that there would be immediate consequences when they committed wrongdoing, this would serve as a deterrent. This was what the Committee would like to see.

He recognised Lt-Gen Lebeya’s qualifications and his thesis on organised crime, which was partly what was being dealt with now. The Committee had been raising this matter of organised crime with the NPA because it was something that had to be dealt with jointly as the criminal justice system. The debt that the African continent owed was less than the money going out in illicit financial outflows. He said the importance of this debt was that it was trying to remain sustainable, because interest payments on this debt were high. As a result of this debt, the delivery of services was affected, and therefore there were insufficient numbers of policemen, prosecutors, and forensic investigators because there were not enough resources. If all public servants could deal with these illicit financial outflows, how much money could go back to the fiscus and reignite the economy -- not only the economy of the country but also the continent. When more than R500 bn left the continent, that was R500 bn that was not used to deal with the issues facing the people -- poverty, unemployment, and crime.

He said he was raising this issue because the Committee and the entities must work towards having a thorough research paper where, as the security cluster at the level of both Parliament and the entities, it could have an engagement with National Treasury. He maintained that if the Minister of Finance suggested a zero-budgeting approach, the first priority to ensure it was able to revive the economy would be to rigorously give law enforcement agencies the capacity to fight crime, corruption, and particularly illicit financial outflows. This would avoid the issue of budgets and the challenge of meeting the basic needs of the people in the manner it would want to do. He emphasised that this was important.

The Chairperson said Ms Mofokeng had raised the issue of Steinhoff. This issue was also linked to the issue the Committee was raising, that as long as the law enforcement agencies did not have the required capacity -- the forensic capacity and the accountants the NDPP had mentioned -- it would run into these risks. If most of these commercial crimes were prosecuted successfully, this required forensic capability. This forensic capability must reside within the State and must not be outsourced. This was what the Committee wanted to raise as Parliament to the National Treasury, further assisted by the information the entities would have provided to the Committee. He was quite convinced that as long as it was not treating the issue of crime in general, but crime linked specifically to corruption, and corruption done by the private sector on a large scale, it was not going to meet the basic needs of the people. In fact, it would gradually move towards being a failed State.

He understood the explanations provided to the Committee on the issue of Steinhoff and the Hawks, but this was unsustainable in the people’s view, and it was unsustainable that it did not have the resources to be able to do the work and had to rely on people who it may or may not be investigating. He emphasised the issue of the capacity of the State must be non-negotiable. The Committee did not want to take away the work of the Portfolio Committee on Police, but it would be important that both the NPA and the Hawks were supported in terms of getting the required resources.

It was also important, as Adv Batohi had mentioned, that one of the distinguishing factors of top law firms was its ability to integrate the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) as part of its operational efficiencies. The tendency was to be human intensive, even in areas where technology could do better and allow people to do more strategic issues, because some of the prosecutors across the board were swamped more by administration than strategic issues. The tendency was then to complain that there was insufficient human capacity.

In some instances, government tended to assume some of these applications and software were very expensive, when some were not, because at times it did not think in terms of efficiency. He said government thought in terms of billions and spending, rather than considering the best solution, as it assumed that if it was expensive it meant that it was effective. The government should look beyond this to the market broadly. Lt Gen Lebeya was aware that in the Intelligence Service, there was this contestation between the human intelligence and the use of open sources, signals, and artificial intelligence. There was a lot that was used to complement human beings to ensure a better product. One should not be intimidated by artificial intelligence, because there was a tendency to regard artificial intelligence as a Rolls-Royce solution. In countries such as India, most of the small to medium sized companies embraced artificial intelligence, and it was becoming more efficient. He noted that on the issue of data analytics, the SIU was integrated, but he maintained that it was important to take its operational efficiencies to the next level. With this, it would easily be able to address the game changing issues that Adv Breytenbach had mentioned.

The Chairperson thanked the entities for being part of this meeting and for the report to the Committee. He said the Committee would provide it enough time to develop game-changing reports. He clarified that for the Committee, a report should be a representation of the changes on the ground, not the fancy jargon on the paper. He said this would satisfy the Committee.

He requested to have a discussion with the Committee on the next item because of time.

The Chairperson released the NPA, the SIU, and the Hawks to continue to do the good work on the ground, and commented that the Committee would meet with them again.

Committee matters

It would meet with the NDPP soon to discuss the issue of the prosecutors. There were two items. The first was the issue that it had been dealing with for some time, of the prosecutors who were Deputy Directors of Public Prosecutions. He said this issue had been in the courts for many years, and it was important to start giving leadership on this matter. The second issue, which had been dealt with last year, was the issue of the black prosecutors. The Committee would meet with the NDPP soon to deal with these issues.

The Chairperson suggested postponing the issue on the legal opinion to tomorrow, because the ANC component had been called into an urgent meeting that would start at 13h00. The Committee did not want to rush this process, as a lot of time had gone into writing this opinion. Legal opinions were very important, especially for the Committee, when it dealt with legislation that had potential constitutional challenges. It could not glance through this -- it must have enough time to deal with it so that it could have a considered view about this legal opinion. He suggested postponing this issue and leaving it until tomorrow, since the Committee would also deal with this matter in that meeting, and adjourn for today. He asked Members to state their views on this suggestion.

Ms Mofokeng agreed with the Chairperson.

Adv Breytenbach seconded Ms Mofokeng. She said it was an important matter, and the Committee must have sufficient time to deal with it thoroughly and properly.

The Chairperson noted this. He said that in the absence of any other item, the Committee would find time tomorrow to deal with the minutes before it adjourned.

He asked Members to move for this meeting to be adjourned.

Ms Newhoudt-Druchen moved.

Ms Mofokeng seconded. 

The meeting was adjourned.



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