While fighting corruption remains the main priority for the NPA, the national director of public prosecutions is worried about possible budget cuts.
FILE: NDPP Shamila Batohi at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 4 December 2018. Picture: EWN
JOHANNESBURG – National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shamila Batohi said on Wednesday the days of impunity for those breaking the law were numbered. But she warned that any cuts to the NPA’s budget could roll back any gains it made.
The NPA on Wednesday briefed Parliament’s justice committee on its performance. The briefing came in the wake of high-profile arrests and the seizure of assets linked to a number of fraud and corruption cases.
The National Director of Public Prosecutions, Batohi, said the action taken so far was like a drop in the ocean: “The wheels of justice are turning – it’s been slow. But let us be frank and candid: this is one tiny, tiny pinpoint of a massive iceberg.”
Batohi said the NPA and the Hawks were focusing on 87 cases. Since April, 26 of these cases were enrolled in court.
“In the past, these cases might never have seen the inside of a courtroom and the fact that these cases are now beginning to come to the courts shows that things are changing – and that the days of impunity are certainly limited.”
But Batohi was worried the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic will see her budget cut by up to R1.1 billion, which would virtually cancel out the R1.3 billion cash injection the NPA received last year.
Batohi said fighting corruption was a priority.
“But what it requires is a huge investment and commitment from the government as well.”
Meanwhile, anti-corruption expert Dr Benni Lekubu said government needed to make drastic efforts to support the NPA and other anti-corruption units, including the Hawks.
Lekubu said government needed to equip the organisations with more resources.
“The government has come out clearly to say, ‘we are going to support the anti-corruption agencies that are in existence’. It is for the government to now speak to that commitment and make sure that they capacitate the NPA and the Hawks,” he said.