Catholic Bishops call for an anti-corruption court in SA
The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has called for the establishment of an anti-corruption court in South Africa.
The SACBC’s Justice and Peace Commission made the appeal after the Supreme Court of Appeal last week dealt a blow to President Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in the “spy tapes” saga.
“The court battle on the Spygate and corresponding corruption allegations against the President have been going on for more than eight years. If the National Prosecuting Authority decides to reinstate corruption charges against the President‚ the matter will probably continue for another four years‚” said a statement issued by Bishop Abel Gabuza on Monday.
The Supreme Court of Appeal on Friday turned down a bid by Zuma to appeal against a previous ruling that he could face 783 corruption-related charges.
Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority had asked the court to overturn a Pretoria High Court judgment that the charges could be reinstated.
The bishops said the protracted legal battle had cost the country.
“When allegations of corruption hang over the head of a sitting President for this long‚ something gives way. In our case‚ the moral fibre of our nation has suffered massive damage as a result of people losing confidence in the Office of the President and its ability to fight corruption at all levels of government. For eight years we have not had a President who leads from the front in the fight against corruption‚” the statement said.
“As Church leaders‚ we are not experts in constitutional law. However‚ considering the damage that protracted corruption cases are inflicting on the moral fibre of our nation‚ we urge constitutional experts and the Law Reform Commission to guide the nation on the feasibility of establishing an Anti-Corruption Court‚ with specialised prosecutors‚ that would ensure speedy and efficient addressing and disposal of corruption cases and financial crimes.”
The religious body also challenged ANC presidential hopefuls to publicly declare that they would push for the establishment of a specialised anti-corruption court if they were elected.