Avatar photo

By Sydney Majoko

Writer


Wheels of justice are turning slowly following Transnet arrests

The muted excitement must not be confused to mean the arrests are of no significance.


The excitement that followed the arrest of the five people allegedly linked to state capture corruption at Transnet was quite guarded. Only one whistle-blower admitted to finally popping the champagne that she had put on ice for four years. South Africans have watched in agony over the years as state capture beneficiaries have toyed with the law, played for touch and somehow always managed to find a loophole in the legal system to postpone their day in court. ALSO READ: State capture report shows extent of corruption in SA – but will action follow? So it is understandable why an eternal…

Subscribe to continue reading this article
and support trusted South African journalism

Access PREMIUM news, competitions
and exclusive benefits

SUBSCRIBE
Already a member? SIGN IN HERE

The excitement that followed the arrest of the five people allegedly linked to state capture corruption at Transnet was quite guarded.

Only one whistle-blower admitted to finally popping the champagne that she had put on ice for four years.

South Africans have watched in agony over the years as state capture beneficiaries have toyed with the law, played for touch and somehow always managed to find a loophole in the legal system to postpone their day in court.

ALSO READ: State capture report shows extent of corruption in SA – but will action follow?

So it is understandable why an eternal optimist would look at the arrest of the five with a “we’ll see what happens” attitude.

The muted excitement must not be confused to mean the arrests are of no significance.

These arrests, although long overdue, are the meat on the bone that is the Zondo Commission.

They justify the R1 billion spent on the commission in addition to saying to South Africans that even though the wheels of justices might grind ever so slowly, they keep on turning.

One of the very first witnesses to make a spectacle of herself at the commission was Vytjie Mentor, who not only appeared to contradict herself, but was short on substance.

Back then, the whole exercise looked like a waste of time and money.

But these arrests change everything. Most analysts agree that South Africa’s greatest moments happened almost three decades ago.

The elevation of Nelson Mandela as president, the crafting and adoption of the constitution, the peaceful transition of power from Mandela’s to Thabo Mbeki’s administration.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa hands over fourth state capture report to Parliament

Those events defined this country but over the years, the marked decline of the country in stature globally was accelerated by the phenomenon of state capture.

The architects of that process designed it such that corruption was done using legal state institutions which made it seem like it would one day be possible to have state capture beneficiaries brought to book.

It is possible that these five arrests might never end up with a clear trial where the guilt or innocence of the accused is pronounced in an open court.

The first, most prominent, prosecution of a senior political figure in South Africa has been going on since the early 2000s and it is nowhere close to being concluded.

Former president Jacob Zuma has still not had his guilt or innocence declared in his corruption trial.

So, it is quite possible the five arrested for Transnet state capture could draw things out for a very long time.

The Investigating Directorate (ID) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has promised further arrests in the case by the time the accused head back to court.

There is also the complexity of the case itself. State capture was looting, granted, but it was convoluted looting.

READ MORE: State capture: President Ramaphosa dodges the Bosasa bullet

Money went back and forth, it went through a lot of loops before ending up in the pockets of state capture beneficiaries.

This will not only make the case a complicated one but it builds in a guaranteed delay to the case.

If South Africa were a rope that state capture tried to break over the period of a decade, the arrest of the five last week symbolises President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration putting back a strand on the rope to strengthen it again.

Martin Luther King Jnr famously said “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.

Whether anyone ends up going to jail or not, the Zondo Commission and Shamila Batohi will have thrown some significant punches at those who sought to steal SA’s future.

They have declared, not without a fight.

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits