The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has broken its silence following the release of the Zondo commission’s report.
Having come under fire by some organisations and political parties recently, the NPA says “significant progress has been made” with its case, but also acknowledged its slow pace regarding prosecutions.
“Rebuilding the NPA after years of being undermined by state capture actors was never going to be quick or easy.
“Yet, significant progress has been made, and the NPA is slowly, but surely being rebuilt to enable it to deliver on its vital mandate,” the NPA said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The NPA [also] takes note of the commission’s finding that it failed to respond adequately to state capture, and that the NPA’s institutional weaknesses need to be addressed. In this regard, the NDPP has publicly acknowledged the challenges facing the NPA, including in its efforts to prosecute high-level corruption matters,” it added.
The NPA indicated that it has a created a task force team in response to the first part of the commission’s state capture report.
“An urgent review of all cases covered in the report, including those already proclaimed by the NPA’s Investigating Directorate (ID), will be conducted.
“The task force’s main focus is on progress and impact. It builds on the work already done within the NPA over the past few years, in collaboration with the Zondo commission and other law enforcement partners,” the prosecuting unit said.
The NPA also noted the recommendation to establish a “dedicated” court to handle state capture.
“This will enable speedy finalisation of cases and conviction-based asset recoveries.”
Zondo criticises NPA
In the 874-page report, the commission, chaired by Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, found that state capture was established and also criticised the NPA’s failure to prosecute cases of corruption.
The report further states the NPA’s failure to respond “adequately, or at all” to the challenges of state capture corruption “points to a fundamental failure of a sovereign state function”.
Zondo suggested in the recommendations of the report that a new independent anti-procurement corruption agency be established.
He also recommended that a number of implicated former officials face prosecution.
‘A real challenge’
The NPA’s former head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), Advocate Willie Hofmeyr told eNCA recently that it will be “a real challenge” for the unit to deal with the cases.
Hofmeyr indicated that the NPA is allowed to start prosecuting individuals now rather than wait for the final report to be published.
He said, however, further investigations may need to be done, which will take time.
“There is a bit of a complicated process of transferring all the documents and evidence of the Zondo commission to the NPA, and get them into a form where criminal charges can be brought.
“There are going to be areas where further clarification is needed and witnesses called in for further information. It’s not going to be a quick move,” Hofmeyr said.
The former AFU head suggested that prosecutions may only happen next year.