Sexual offences courts on ice without funds

24 April 2013 - 02:56 By DENISE WILLIAMS
Gavel. File photo.
Gavel. File photo.
Image: Times Media Group

The National Prosecuting Authority says a shortage of money is preventing it from staffing sexual offences courts with as many competent prosecutors as they need.

The acting national deputy director of public prosecutions, Thoko Majokweni, yesterday told parliament's justice and constitutional development portfolio committee that it was unlikely that the NPA would meet its target of two prosecutors for each sexual offences court because of "budgetary constraints".

"We have never been able to have enough money to do that. We are afraid that [the lack of staff and resources will] undermine the very process of creating the sexual offences courts," she said.

Majokweni said the NPA needed an additional R200-million in the 2013-2014 financial year to pay its staff.

African Christian Democratic Party MP Steve Swart said: "I made a strong plea for additional funding. We are satisfied that [the NPA is] spending [its] resources properly and [needs] to have that additional capacity."

He said his committee would recommend that the NPA budget be increased. Swart said it was possible that the NPA's request for more money had been rejected because the Justice Department itself was under-funded by R600-million in the past financial year.

DA MP Dene Smuts said she would also fight for more money for the NPA. "The NPA's predicament really is of special concern, therefore I think the justice committee will be able to recommend additional funds," said Smuts.

NPA spokesman Bulelwa Makeke said fewer than 10 sexual offences courts were operating.

But Justice Department director-general Nonkuleleko Sindane was quoted last week as saying that 40 sexual offences courts were in a "reasonable state" and a further 50 would soon be operational.

"About 58 have the infrastructure," Sindane said.