Thapelo Lekabe

Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

NPA expands capacity to tackle state capture, corruption cases

The NPA promises to 'spare no effort or cost' to ensure that it has the best capabilities to prosecute state capture and other complex corruption cases.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has announced that it is adopting a “more strategic and focused approach” in prosecuting state capture and corruption-related cases.

The NPA has recently come under fire over its lack of successful prosecutions related to state capture cases, despite the fact that there is a mountain of evidence from the Zondo Commission that suggests that widespread corruption took place in state institutions.

Some opposition parties and civil society organisations have called for a commission of inquiry into NPA boss Advocate Shamila Batohi‘s fitness to hold office after the prosecutions service lost its first state capture case in April related to the R24.9-million Nulane Investments fraud matter.

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The organisation also suffered another blow in the same month when the government’s application to extradite alleged state capture kingpins, Rajesh and Atul Gupta, from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was dismissed.

‘Strategic and focused approach’

Despite these setbacks, on Friday, the NPA said it was adopting a new prosecutorial strategy by allocating “highly skilled additional resources” to maximise its chances of success in ensuring justice and accountability.

In a statement, NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga acknowledged the devastating impact that state capture and other forms of corruption have had on the country, its economy and democratic institutions.

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Mhaga assured citizens that the organisation would not “spare no effort or cost” to ensure that it has the best capabilities to prosecute state capture and other complex corruption cases.

“Under its present leadership, the NPA has prioritised the prosecution of these crimes. Drawing on lessons from recent setbacks, and the findings of our capacity enhancement initiative, the NPA is further expanding and strengthening its prosecution capabilities relating to these cases,” he said.

Changing nature of crime

The NPA’s research confirms that it has a core of highly experienced and capable prosecutors who can effectively prosecute the bulk of serious cases on the court rolls, Mhaga said.

However, he said it was necessary to supplement these skills in view of the changing nature of crime, including its increased digital character and the growing complexity of corruption matters.

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“The NPA’s expanded approach builds on previous experience and practice. It starts with strategic case coordination and prioritisation of impactful cases, and extends to enlisting the services of the country’s leading Senior Counsel and other local and international experts to support prosecutors and Investigating Directorate investigators in their work.

“This expanded use of seasoned advocates and other experts to support our specialist staff, which we have now applied in some key cases already enrolled, will ensure that the NPA is able to deal with all aspects of these complex cases, in a sustainable and coordinated manner, with the best available resources.”

Advisory panels

The NPA also said it would expand the use of its existing internal case advisory panels.

It said this would ensure that the most experienced prosecutors in the organisation provide their insights and guidance in relation to all priority cases, primarily on whether the standard of proof required for enrolment is met.

“The NPA may not always succeed in all the cases it prosecutes. And the role of a prosecutor is not to secure a conviction at all costs, but to place all relevant and admissible evidence before the court, in the quest for justice.”

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