Spotlight on the NPA

When we started in 2019, one of the first things we explained was why no one was in jail yet for state capture. As we put it back then, getting a watertight case in front of a judge takes time. But two years later, that’s no excuse. 🤷🏽‍♀️ The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is responsible for prosecuting criminals on behalf of the state. The institution has long been compromised because of politics. President Cyril Ramaphosa made big moves to bolster its independence, and we were among the first to hope for big things; we celebrated the appointment of the respected Shamila Batohi as director two years ago. But the NPA is just not doing well. 😓 It missed its annual target for corruption convictions of government officials by 61% in the past financial year! We’ve made a big deal every time money has been recovered too, but the NPA attached just R661 million in crime proceeds in the past financial year – a quarter of its objective, the M&G recently reported

There have been some noteworthy cases, however, and the pandemic has slowed everyone down. But the larger issue is that Batohi still battles incompetence and internal stonewalling rooted in the past. That’s a problem: the list of people to prosecute is only going to get longer once acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo releases the state capture inquiry’s final report. 😶

Batohi had to answer to Parliament over the slow prosecution of high-profile cases this week. There’s also concern over the resignation of the head of the NPA’s Investigation Directorate, Hermoine Cronjé, just two years into her five-year-long post. Cronjé was probably tired. 😓 She had to travel to the NPA’s offices in Tshwane every week from Cape Town and worked 20-hour days, Daily Maverick reported. But according to City Press rumour has it her resignation is also a result of conflict with Batohi, corrupt officials in high positions and very little freedom to make appointments within her unit, which is tasked with carrying out investigations. Cronjé will vacate her post in May 2022. 

Batohi, during her answer session, insisted that the NPA is not failing in its duties and that these things take time. But, like all South Africans, we’re itching to see justice. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 9 December 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.