The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says it has created a task force which is dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of matters arising from the State Capture Commission and the subsequent release of part one of its report.
What is the State Capture task force mandate?
The first part of the State Capture Commission’s report dealt extensively with alleged corruption, maladministration, fraud and money laundering at, amongst others, the South African Airways and its subsidiaries, State power utility Eskom and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
In a joint statement released with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) – known as the Hawks – the NPA said the task force’s work is underway to urgently review cases mentioned in the report and those already being followed by the NPA’s Investigating Directorate.
“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 NPA and… DPCI are systematically reviewing the commission’s findings and recommendations, with a view to investigating and building cases for criminal prosecution against those who broke the law, be they from the public or private sectors. This will include, where appropriate, the freezing and forfeiture of the proceeds of crimes,” the statement said.
The two crime busting units said they are “committed to ending impunity” in the country.
“The commission’s reports highlight the extent of suspected criminality flowing from State capture, and the scale and nature of the task at hand to hold those responsible to account. South Africans deserve to see justice being done for heinous crimes that have undermined our country’s development prospects that have disproportionately affected the poor and the vulnerable, and ruined the lives and dreams of many people,” the statement said.
How evidence from Zondo’s report will be handled
The NPA cautioned that although the commission collected an extensive volume of material, there are differences in what is admissible as evidence in a commission of enquiry and standards set to allow for prosecution, and that criminal investigations will be instituted “so that evidence can be presented in criminal matters, in accordance with the South African law of evidence”.
The NPA said its Investigating Directorate (ID) is in a “proactive” process to respond to the commission’s recommendations in this regard.
“The ID is in the process of on boarding resources from the Zondo Commission, including the transfer of the digital forensic capacity to the NPA, whilst also taking the necessary steps, through National Treasury, to increase its capacity, proportionate to the demands emanating from the commission’s reports.
“Internal coordination within the NPA, as well as external coordination with stakeholders, is being strengthened in order to ensure effective collaboration and coordination in the investigation and prosecution of complex corruption matters, as well as asset recovery,” the NPA said.
According to the statement, the commission’s 500 billion pages of printed text in evidence, investigations and affidavits present a “Herculean task” but one that the prosecuting authority is preparing for.
“The NPA is vigorously exploring options to boost its capacities, capabilities and resources. It will continue to do so with the assistance of relevant departments, including National Treasury, DPSA [Department of Public Service and Administration] and the Solicitor General’s Office, and with the support of the Minister and the DG of Justice.”
For its part, the DPCI said it will “respond accordingly” to issues raised within the State Capture Commission’s report which fall within its ambit.
“A team comprising senior officers from the operational investigation components is identifying cases that may have been reported and currently being investigated by the respective components of the DPCI, prior to the release of the commission’s first report. This will enable the DPCI to take stock of what is already part of the commission’s findings and recommendations, which forms part of its existing investigations, and equally respond to other recommendations as they may fall within its mandate, but not part of the existing investigations,” the statement said.
The prosecutorial and investigative institutions re-committed efforts to bring those who profited from State capture to book.
“We are under no illusions about the enormity of the task at hand, and the challenges that we face; but we give you, the people of South Africa, our commitment, that guided by the evidence and the values enshrined in our Constitution, we will not rest until the rule of law once again lights our way in South Africa.”