15 Feb 2022
In this virtual meeting, the Committee held a follow-up engagement on cases referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
The SIU, in terms of section 4(1)(d) of the SIU Act, refers any matter in which evidence points to the commission of an offence, to the NPA for prosecution.
The NPA informed the Committee that the majority of cases, where the decision was taken not to prosecute, was due to insufficient evidence. It emphasised that there was a need for a proper criminal investigation to ensure there was no miscarriage of justice.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) emphasised the need for State entities to collaborate more. Among the successes, it reported that the Financial Intelligence Centre froze 23 accounts to the value of R272 million. The Asset Forfeiture Unit – in 28 matters - was able to recover R278 million. The SIU – in 26 matters - was able to R465 million. In 20 matters, SARS was able to recover R727 million.
The SIU highlighted that the NPA was the ‘subject matter expert,’ in deciding to institute a prosecution and if there were reasonable prospects of success in a prosecution. While the SIU and the Committee had been previously concerned that there was a huge number of referrals and that the referrals were not tracked; this t process had been sorted out and referrals were now tracked. The number of referrals in the investigation phase and decisions to decline to prosecute were tracked. This was positive development in terms of the cooperation between the SIU and NPA.
Members acknowledged the positive work that was being done. The need for more high-level successful prosecutions and convictions was emphasised. A Member asked if there were sufficient resources, besides funding, to improve the number of convictions. An update was requested on the status of the Steinhoff matter, particularly where Mr Markus Jooste was concerned. Clarity was requested about the overall lifespan of cases. Concern was raised about the lack of digital records and a digital tracking system; it was suggested that this impacted accountability and transparency. A Member asked if the National Prosecuting Authority had been able to clean house and change the culture and mindset within the entity that had existed before 2019. It was suggested that collaboration would not be detrimental to independence but would enhance the prospects of successful prosecutions and recoveries. Concern was raised about the rate of recoveries, particularly in light of it being ten years behind the curve. The accumulation of theft, corruption, and fraud amounted to billions of Rands. Concern was raised about the slow place in dealing with cases as well as the potential for future cases to increase this burden. A Member suggested that the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services appear before the Committee to address the issue of the movement of cases, amongst others. It was proposed that the entities meet on a quarterly basis with the Committee to address issues.
The Chairperson commented that the judiciary, was an independent arm of the State, but the courts were not helping, when matters took forever to reach the court roll. A serious discussion needed to happen with the Judiciary about its own effectiveness and efficiency. It was totally unacceptable that cases were stuck on the roll for such long periods of time. By the time matters were heard, ‘cosmetic prosecution’ took place, i.e. prosecuting for the sake of prosecution, without the real prospects of recoveries to the State, amongst others.
The Chairperson stated that he had been in conversation with the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), who had highlighted that it was necessary for the Hawks to present in the meeting. Both the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks would be briefing the Committee in the meeting. The Committee needed to see movement in investigations and prosecutions on the issues raised.
Presentation by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on cases referred by the SIU
Adv Shamila Batohi, NDPP, NPA, made brief introductory remarks and introduced members of the NPA who were in attendance.
Adv Batohi, Adv Rodney de Kock, Deputy NDPP of National Prosecution Services at the NPA, and Adv Priya Biseswar, Special Director of Public Prosecution at the AFU of the NPA, presented to the Committee. The presentation sought to respond to questions about the number of cases withdrawn, reasons for the withdrawal of cases, and the number of cases before the courts, amongst others. The Committee had previously sought responses from the NPA on the reason for the delay in investigations and cases as well as cases where assets were recovered.
The presentation graphically outlined the progress on referrals from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) as well as some of the reasons why the decision was taken not to prosecute. The majority of cases, where the decision was taken not to prosecute, were due to there being insufficient evidence. It was emphasised that there was a need for a proper criminal investigation to ensure there was no miscarriage of justice. The issues around the length of time it took to process cases were highlighted, particularly where witnesses might need to be located for statements, etc. On average reports were received within two years after the proclamation.
Updates were provided on the progress of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU). Approximately 48 confiscations took place to the value of R1,778 billion since 2002, resulting from the referrals from the SIU. There were 28 recovery cases to the value of R5,373 million, and payments to victims amounted to R1,69 billion. It was noted that many referrals had no potential for asset forfeiture, due to the SIU proceeding with civil recovery referrals. The SIU was a key stakeholder in a number of the anti-corruption structures, such as the Fusion Centre.
The NPA had a weekly consultation with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and the SIU to ensure that progress was collective. Internal monitoring had been enhanced but such efforts were still in progress.
The Chairperson highlighted that slide 9, which spoke to progress on referrals as at the end of 10 March 2022, noted that ‘1 087 cases’ were under investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI). If the other numbers flowed out of the 1 087. It would mean that only 35.3 percent of the 1 087 were receiving attention in so far as progress was concerned. He asked for clarity on this.
Input from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks)
Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, Head, Hawks, introduced those in attendance from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and the apologies of some of his colleagues.
He responded to the question asked by the Chairperson about the ‘1 087 cases.’ His understanding was that the ‘1 087’ referred to the number of suspects not the ‘number of cases.’ The number of cases was still high but this was being worked on. The area that might not have been reflected correctly were the matters that were already referred to the NPA for a decision. He would need to check the figures, but he believed it was a lot less. This area needed to be worked on. These matters were being prioritised.
Input from the SIU
Adv Andy Mothibi, Head, SIU, expressed gratitude for the attention that the matter was receiving. It could only serve to benefit, particularly the public. Since becoming Head of SIU, and starting the new strategy in 2017, there was a realisation that all SIU’s referrals had to be implemented and not exclusively referrals for prosecution but also for disciplinary actions for consequence management and speeding up civil litigation. This matter was first raised in 2017, that was why the SIU entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the NPA in 2017 so that the entities could work together and make it easier to ensure that matters received attention. These matters were previously not receiving the necessary attention or traction. The SIU accepted that the referrals were subject to the NPA processes. By law, the SIU was enjoined to refer evidence of criminal behaviour to the NPA. From there on the matters were subject to the NPA processes. The SIU was pleased to see the matters being attended to. The statistics around ‘declining to prosecute’ etc were items that the SIU wanted to see in 2017 – to know that the matters were being addressed and attended to.
The SIU was mandated by law to investigate corruption, which was a criminal offence. There was an expectation that the SIU should investigate these matters appropriately – however at the stage when there was evidence pointing to a criminal offence, it was referred to the NPA. There was a need to understand the outcomes, in line with the MoU, such as in declining to prosecute and insufficient evidence. This information would indicate where the SIU might have fallen short etc.
There had been enhanced collaboration, with the DPCI in the picture. When the SIU made referrals, the matters were simultaneously referred to DPCI which assisted with collaboration and outcomes, after consideration by NPA. The practical realities shown in some of the slides indicated the extent to which the SIU investigated. He looked forward to the enhancement of the MoU to bring in the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), where it could assist the SIU and enhance collaboration.
On the previous occasion, SIU had indicated this it had a mandate from the NPA to prosecute some of the cases resulting from the large investigations done. Adv Gerhard Visagie had institutional memory of that and would be able to elaborate.
Adv Gerhard Visagie, of the SIU, said the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act stated that the ‘SIU needed to refer evidence pointing to the committing of an offence to the prosecuting authority.’ Those were very ‘soft words.’ It did not provide detail about what the SIU should send to the NPA. The SIU had embarked on a process, that was confirmed in the MoU, where a portfolio of evidence would be sent by the SIU to the NPA in cases where matters were referred. The SIU was not the ‘subject matter expert.’ The NPA was the ‘subject matter expert,’ in deciding to institute a prosecution and if there were reasonable prospects of success in a prosecution. That final decision rested with the NPA. It was understandable that there would be a significant number of instances where the NPA would decline to prosecute. He acknowledged that the SIU and the Committee had been previously concerned that there was a huge number of referrals and that the referrals were not tracked. That process had been sorted out. Referrals were now tracked. The number of referrals in the investigation phase and decisions to decline to prosecute etc were tracked. At least there was traction - that was positive - particularly in terms of the cooperation between the SIU and NPA.
On the issue of the portfolio of evidence – or ‘SIU docket of evidence’ to prove the offence - there were a number of lawyers within the SIU who had previously worked in the prosecuting environment. He was one of them. The SIU, therefore, did have some understanding of the elements of certain offences and the complexity of some of the newer offences, like racketeering and corruption in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PRECCA). The SIU tried its best to include all the evidence required when referring matters. If there was not enough evidence for a prosecution, that was accepted, as it was the prerogative of the NPA to prosecute. It was not for the SIU to decide. The SIU’s job was to comply with the Act.
The issue of SIU members prosecuting was something that dated back to the first decade of the century. The SIU had dealt with a large number of matters, such as social pensions, where there was a whole team of people in the SIU that conducted thousands of prosecutions across the country on the strength of delegations from the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Team was led by a retired member of Public Prosecutions – he was an attorney general at the time. There were five or six former prosecutors in the employ of the SIU, who travelled around the country for prosecutions on the strength of delegations received from the NPA. It was very successful. Many matters were handled and a large number of convictions were obtained. There was a history of cooperation there.
Mr A Lees (DA) stated that the overall picture suggested that the work being done by the various agencies could not be classified as ‘poor.’ He suggested that the Committee should be supportive of the work that had been done. Having said that, South Africans were looking for more high-level successful prosecutions and convictions. While it was important to understand the processes that needed to be followed – the reality was that the country was not seeing the convictions. He suggested that there needed to be greater efficiency in handling matters, while ensuring that due process was followed. He was concerned that greater progress was required than what was planned. He asked that the various agencies, without holding back, state what the resource constraints were to achieving the convictions. He appreciated knowing the overall picture of the processes required – he was not suggesting these be changed. Were there sufficient resources to get the convictions needed, besides the required funding?
He posed a question specifically for Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya. On previous occasions, since 2017, he had engaged with the Lieutenant General about Steinhoff. How far were the prosecutions of anyone on the Steinhoff matter- particularly Mr Markus Jooste?
Ms Y Yako (EFF) stated that irrespective of the 1 087 cases – the slide showed data since 2017. What was the longest lifespan of cases? What were the targets on cases that were currently being worked on – specifically high-profile cases? A lot of the cases the Department of Justice entities dealt with were still being captured in hardcopy. There was no electronic mechanism keeping track of the cases, which would impact the use and storage of evidence. She suggested that there was no real synergy – the court sentences did not seem to be a true reflection of what was happening. This suggested that there was no proper synergy between departments. That worried her. If there was no electronic mechanism to track cases, it would impact accountability and transparency.
Responses from the NPA
Adv Batohi stated that she agreed with Mr Lees about the issue of the high-profile cases not coming through. One had to consider the challenges that law enforcement was having. There needed to be a candid discussion about challenges, so that entities, and parliamentary committees, such as SCOPA, could help law enforcement ensure that cases moved quicker. From the NPA’s side, there had been a lot of focus on the resource constraints that the NPA had been labouring under for many years. Until she had taken office in 2019, it had been a very depleted organisation. The NPA had been supported and had received a lot of funds. She suggested Adv Anton du Plessis could speak more about the resourcing of the NPA. The NPA had made requests for budget allocations – both the Minister and Treasury had been very supportive. The NPA was still building capacity when it came to specialised skills.
In line with what Adv Visagie had stated, the cases that the SIU had handled at the time were not very complex. The NPA was able to deal with these because it had the capacity. There was a single national prosecuting authority in the country. It was important that government gave the NPA the resources it needed to deal with the cases. The complex matters were the ones that posed the most challenges.
She said that it was difficult to provide an estimate of the lifespan of a case. It depended on the complexity of the case and if one had the resources to ensure that investigations moved speedily. She agreed that there could not be cases that went on indefinitely. The lack of digitisation was a challenge. The NPA was looking at enhancing its capacity to ensure that there was an electronic database that cut across all entities. Currently, there were various databases, with different figures, that did not speak to one another. The systems were largely still paper-based. Efforts were being made to implement a digitised system and deal with this issue.
Before 2019, there was absolutely no political will nor will in law enforcement to deal with the cases relating to high-level corruption. These cases were deliberately not being given any attention. Since 2019, there had been renewed focus on these cases – together with the DPCI and SIU. Effort was being made to make an impact as well as to build capabilities and capacities simultaneously.
Adv de Kock stated that the resources of the NPA were directed toward the NPA’s focus on corruption. Over the following six months, the NPA was ramping up its ability to deal with complex corruption. Work was being coordinated across all components of the NPA – including the new head of the Investigating Directorate (ID) and the collaboration amongst all divisions through the directors of public prosecutions. As far as the corruption and commercial crime was concerned – the head of the commercial component had been tasked to immediately continue collaboration with the SIU’s Head of Investigations. It was proposed that meetings should take place once a month. The information before the NPA needed to be cleaned up – particularly the data. The NPA needed to identify what the priority cases were, and which cases were ‘low hanging fruit.’ The NPA would continue with its process of dedicated capacity on corruption matters – including dedicated capacity within the NPA to work with the SIU. He thought that the NPA was on track. The way work was done would be enhanced over the following six months. The results would speak for themselves.
Adv Anton du Plessis, Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions: Strategy, Operations and compliance, NPA, stated that the Minister of Justice’s statements in Parliament the week before, spoke to the issue of resources. It was not just about money. There was a massive shift in focus that was needed. Since the rebuilding efforts at the end of 2019, people who had committed those sorts of crimes had a ten-year head start on them. That meant that a significant uptick in the pace was required. The NPA was confident that it would catchup. A lot of things needed to happen to enable the NPA to catch-up. The focus needed to not only be on money. The NPA needed to be bold and innovative – as was put forward by the Minister in Parliament. This included collaboration with the private sector, to bring in resources from the private sector without undermining independence or the ability to prosecute without fear or favour. It was about creating partnerships across the criminal justice system that brought more efficiency and effectiveness to the NPA’s efforts. That was where a bit of a mind-shift was needed. There was presently an opportunity, in response to the Zondo reports – where Judge Zondo had made that very point – that there needed to be a review of the legal structure and architecture that the Country currently operated in. There needed to be an honest reflection of what was working and what was not working. The pace of cybercrimes meant that the NPA would need to keep up to speed even more in the future.
Responses from DPCI (Hawks)
Lieutenant General Lebeya responded to the question asked about the Steinhoff investigation.
He appreciated the collaboration with other law enforcement agencies that worked together within the anti-corruption task team and operational committee. The Hawks worked with the SIU conducting searches etc. The Hawks also supported the SIU team closely. There were collaborative investigations for prosecution.
The capacity of DPCI was being built in the field of forensic accounting investigation – some posts had been advertised in this space. The Hawks was moving away from the current 48% capacity with the relaxation of COVID restrictions.
Arrangements had been made so that 15 Hawks’ members could operate from the ID space in the NPA, to assist the ID. Unfortunately, in addition to that, many members had been lost to the NPA – this was usually the case when competing for limited resources. There are now specialised and dedicated prosecutors for serious commercial crime cases and serious organised crime but this must be accompanied by capacity for investigation of serious corruption – proposals had been made in this regard. With this, things would move quicker than currently seen
Mr B Hadebe (ANC) asked a question about what said by the NDPP – ‘that prior to 2019 there was no political will to prosecute the cases.’ While the Committee welcomed the new appointments in the Office, he wanted to know if the NPA had been able to clean house and change the culture and mindset that had existed prior to 2019. If one were to measure the level of commitment in the NPA to serve and do the right thing – what would be the current level? Were there still members who had a laissez faire attitude within the NPA? What was being done to address this?
Mr S Somyo (ANC) stated in the primary, the Committee was looking into the referrals made by the SIU and how the NPA was attending to them. The current meeting dealt specifically with the SIU referrals to the NPA. He noted that referrals were made to the NPA for prosecution of ‘sticky criminal matters.’ The DPCI had further investigatory capacity to deal with those matters that ought to be investigated further. In terms of the NPA’s system of accountability, what could be placed at the centre of that appraisal to ensure everything was on-track. He asked to understand the NPA’s appraisal methodology. In this instance numbers did not lie.
There were times when matters which were successfully investigated by the SIU, would have in collaboration with NPA, given the SIU the right in terms of a delegation to deal with those matters. He noted that not only referral matters were being dealt with, there were other serious crimes handled by the SIU. If the State invested in these institutions and there was capacity in the institutions, what was it that stopped them from working through these?
Responses from the NPA
Adv Batohi responded to the question asked by Mr Hadebe. In past years, when she had stated that there had been no commitment to deal with the matters – specifically the corruption matters, it had been a small percentage of staff particularly in leadership positions in the NPA that did not have the will to process the cases. The majority of the staff members in the NPA – about 4 500 – were hardworking, dedicated prosecutors committed to bringing justice to the victims of crime. Her assessment was that in as much as there might be a small percentage of staff members that the NPA was still dealing with – there were processes in place that should come to fruition fairly soon. 99 Percent of prosecutors in the NPA were dedicated to the cause of justice for the people of South Africa. There was a good team with whom to move forward with.
She responded to Mr Somyo’s questions about the system of accountability. Mr Somyo was correct, the NPA needed to have razor-sharp focus about its deliverables. This would give the South Africans assurance that the NPA was on-track. The NPA had its planning session a couple of weeks before. A lot of work had taken place over the previous three years. What was decided was that there should be systematic reviews within the NPA at three different levels. These would happen at the level of compliance in reporting to Parliament, as part of their obligations. There would be a review of their six month priorities. The priority focus for the following six months was to look at the implementation of the Zondo Commission recommendations. A task-force had been put together in the NPA to coordinate with its partners. Together with the DPCI and the ID, that had a very specific state capture mandate, the NPA’s focus would be implementation. There would then be reports and reviews at the Management Committee (MANCO) and Executive Committee (EXCO) level focusing on the progress of those matters. The third level of review in the NPA would look at more long-term strategic objectives to achieve an independent, professional, accountable and credible institution. There would thus be roadmaps at the end of her term. There were work streams working on that – that was the third level of review.
She noted that performance contracts would be signed in April 2022. As the NPA moved forward, all of the high-level priorities that were identified would be reflected in the staff’s performance contracts. Many years before, there was an enterprise review committee in the NPA, which for various reasons stopped functioning. This had been resuscitated in the form of the organization performance review mechanism. The focus for the next six months to a year included the State capture cases and performance of the NPA in delivering on its priorities.
Each institution had independent mandates. The NPA was a constitutional entity that had the mandate of prosecuting within South Africa. It needed to be ensured that the NPA had the necessary resources to prosecute all cases. There was good reason to only have one prosecuting authority – and that was to ensure that cases were dealt with in an objective and fair way. She noted that in the past less serious issues were handled by way of delegations in the SIU. In the NPA, there was now capacity and good working relationships. She suggested that the NPA and SIU look at getting prosecutors from the NPA more involved with the SIU at an earlier stage – as was done with the DPCI on some of the more complex matters. The ‘easy’ cases could take place in district or regional courts. Matters could be dealt with relatively quickly at that level. This was perhaps something that could be looked at to fast-track the less serious cases. One wanted to ensure that the less complex cases could move through the system fast so that the more complex cases could be given the necessary time.
Responses from the DPCI (Hawks)
Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya stated that he did not think there were any specific questions directed to the DPCI.
Responses from the NPA continued
Adv de Kock responded to the question about the dedicated capacity. There was a top-leadership decision taken in the NPA, in 2007/8 under the then NDPP Adv Vusi Pikoli, that no prosecutor would be assigned to any institution to conduct prosecutions. That decision was taken as it was in line with the Constitution, the NPA being a single prosecuting authority. More importantly, prosecutions happened under the authority of the directors of public prosecutions, in order to hold directors accountable for decision making within the confines of the policy of the NPA. This was the main reason why one did not want to give prosecutions to any institution. The NPA invited the collaboration with the SIU. The NPA had dedicated prosecutors that worked closely with the tax authorities, which did not have its own prosecutors.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee had a clear understanding about the individual mandates of the respective agencies in the law enforcement cluster. He recognised the need for increased pooling and sharing of resources to ensure success of prosecutions. This did not take away independence; it enhanced the prospects of successful prosecutions and recoveries to the State, which were an important issue for the Committee. The Committee was aware that the NPA was not simply prosecuting the corrupt elements of society. There was an array of issues that the NPA needed to deal with. It was important that the right things were done, at the necessary speed to ensure conviction. The issue of resources was very important. There needed to be maximum use of the minimum resources. The progress that had occurred, was positive. Despite their different powers and responsibilities amongst different entities, it was one State.
Mr Lees stated that a lot of positive stuff had been said. He was concerned about the AFU’s recoveries. The comment was made that the situation was ten years behind the curve – that was right. There was an accumulation of theft, corruption and fraud that amounted to billions of Rands. The AFU was looking at a small amount that had been stolen from the State and taxpayers. Was the AFU satisfied with the amounts recovered?
Mr Somyo appreciated the responses given by the NPA, but he suggested that the NPA was missing the point. At the height of the pandemic, the President created what was termed the ‘Fusion Centre.’ The Fusion Centre brought together a number of institutions that dealt with fighting crime and restoring ethical conduct in society. These institutions needed to work together. The referrals from the SIU to the NPA needed to be attended to with speed. What would happen if similar matters arose in the future, such as the Zondo Commission reports, which would require investigation and prosecution? If one appreciated the capacity that the State had in its own institutions, where there had been investment in resources, why could it not be insisted upon that the State find a way of solidifying collaboration of these entities? The silo mentality existed across institutions. If one emphasised the need for independence, it would not facilitate institutions working together. Collaboration needed to take place. The behavioural patterns on the matters needed to change to see a change in the situation in years to come.
Responses from the NPA
Adv Batohi stated that she agreed completely. In the context of their mandates, all law enforcement agencies needed to work together for the good of South Africa. This was critical. She discounted the suggestion that the NPA wanted to work in a silo. A couple of weeks before, it was insisted that a meeting be held of the principals of the Fusion Centre to ensure that improved collaboration could take place. There needed to be mutual support. This was what the NPA was trying to do. The Fusion Centre was a very good concept on paper. It needed to work, because all parties were committed to working in that spirit of collaboration. The NPA and Hawks worked closely on a number of cases. There were regular meetings, with the focus being on certain types of cases – this similarly needed to be enhanced with the SIU so that cases could be brought to court.
She noted the question about asset recovery. She agreed with Mr Lees, that it was a small amount when one considered the estimates of how much money was stolen from the country. This was estimated at almost a third of the country’s GDP. She suggested that amendments were needed to the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act so that referrals from the SIU could go to the DPCI. The NPA was not the investigative arm. A lot of the recoveries were done in the context of the SIU framework. By the time the matters came to the NPA and AFU, there was not much left. A lot of work took place in the NPA to capacitate the AFU to deal with the matters. It was suggested that a lot of the assets had left the shores of South Africa – the NPA was looking at mutual legal assistance with other countries to try and trace assets abroad. There were also options of looking at private institutions internationally who could assist with this – there were pros and cons to this approach. Sometimes asset forfeiture was slow when it was dependent on the criminal cases moving faster. Within the NPA, the prosecutors were acutely aware that their work impacted asset recovery.
Adv Biseswar stated that the statistics presented, the amount of R1.7 billion, was only in respect of matters that were referred by the SIU and investigated by the DPCI. It did not represent all statistics from the AFU. As the NDPP clearly stated, there were different processes to the asset forfeiture legislation that allowed the NPA to act. Very often the NPA was dependent on the chapter five matters, which required a full criminal investigation to be conducted. A very small percentage of the referrals from the SIU, actually resulted in asset forfeiture potential. This was because there was already asset recovery taking place in the SIU space and there were significant lengths of time between when the offence was committed and when referrals took place. This often led to the dissipation of assets. At the stage where recoveries could happen, a very small percentage of the frozen assets actually translated to recoveries, due to the dissipation and lowering of asset values.
Responses from DPCI (Hawks)
Lieutenant General Lebeya appreciated the observations made by the Chairperson on other matters that the entity is seized with. It is not only the matters that are referred by SIU that is being dealt with; other matters include police killings, state capture, drug trafficking, PPE and municipalities, with the latter being a big focus.
He agreed with Mr Somyo about the need for State entities to collaborate more. There is no need for silo operations. The Hawks closely monitored the activities at the Fusion Centre. As of 11 March 2022, there were already 135 cases under investigation. There were 55 cases in court, 18 cases were finalised with 17 convictions – and one acquittal. The conviction rate was high.
Among the successes, the FIC froze 23 accounts to the value of R272 million. The AFU – in 28 matters - was able to recover R278 million. The SIU – in 26 matters - was able to R465 million. In 20 matters, SARS was able to recover R727 million. This demonstrated cooperation and collaboration and this what is they are trying to achieve and to collaborate in all areas.
He supported collaboration and that was what the Hawks and other entities were trying very hard to achieve.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would leave it at that, with the express understanding that collaboration was the ‘name of the game,’ given the constraints on resources which were not limited to financial resources. Prosecutions were a perception driver – the perception that ‘big fish’ did not get prosecuted did not inspire confidence. It invited the perception of political bias and interference - when really there was every duty to ensure the independence of law enforcement agencies. It needed to go well-beyond the rhetoric and statements of intent. Other law enforcement agencies needed to function for the NPA to function.
The judiciary, was an independent arm of the State, but the courts were not helping, when matters took forever to reach the court roll. A serious discussion needed to happen with the Judiciary about its own effectiveness and efficiency. It was totally unacceptable that cases were stuck on the roll for such long periods of time. By the time matters were heard, ‘cosmetic prosecution’ took place, i.e. prosecuting for the sake of prosecution, without the real prospects of recoveries to the State, amongst others. The independence of the Judiciary had an obligation to adhere to certain terms and conditions of efficiency. This was in the collective interest of pushing back against corruption. If one over-played the independence card, one ran the risk of not asking the difficult questions as a means to enhance the process to be functional, effective and efficient. This was an area that needed to be looked at.
He suggested that the conversation about what was causing bottlenecks needed to take place. One should not sit comfortably and leave that part out of the equation. The courts needed to play ball. He suggested more generally that the ‘needle’ needed to progress and deal with the challenges. The Committee wanted comprehensive investigations that resulted in water-tight prosecutions. It was two sides of the same point. Collaboration was the name of the game. Investigations became ‘fruitless and wasteful expenditure’ if they were not acted upon. One needed to investigate so that the outcomes of the investigations resulted in consequence management for everyone.
Ms N Tolashe (ANC) stated that she was ‘quite excited’ by the Chairperson’s closing remarks. Without undermining his remarks, she suggested that the Committee needed to put forward proposals to be implemented. She noted that the Committee had previously raised issues about the funding that might come from elsewhere, in relation to the NPA. She suggested that interaction needed to take place with the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services regarding any difficulties or progress and how best to work together to deal with issues.
The Chairperson stated that Ms Tolashe was ‘on the money,’ and she had not undermined his statements. A follow-up meeting needed to take place with the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. The Committee had met with the Minister in 2020 about the issue of special courts. There needed to be a discussion about the movement of cases as well. He stated that the entities would meet quarterly with the Committee to engage on issues and address any bottlenecks. The next interaction would take place toward the end of June 2022.
The meeting was adjourned.
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