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Hermione Cronje's prosecutors will target corruption big fish, not foot soldiers

24 May 2019 - 11:38 By ERNEST MABUZA
Hermione Cronje's unit will be selective about the cases it takes on and will target the people who benefit most from corruption.
Hermione Cronje's unit will be selective about the cases it takes on and will target the people who benefit most from corruption.
Image: Ntswe Mokoena/GCIS

The investigative directorate in the office of the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) will focus on those who have systematically and actively sought to corrupt government procurement systems and processes for private gain.

Hermione Cronje, who was appointed head of the directorate by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week, said it was envisaged her unit would take on only a few cases.

"Our case selection criteria will ensure that we address those who planned, orchestrated and instigated the corruption of the system, and those who ultimately derived benefit from the looting of state coffers, not only those foot soldiers who were merely implanting their corrupt schemes," Cronje said.

She said the unit wanted to address those who actively and systematically weakened the capacity of the criminal justice system to ensure that the corrupt escaped accountability for their crimes.

Cronje added that she had appointed Geoff Budlender SC to give advice on cases the directorate was reviewing.

She also announced that Thanda Mngwengwe, former operational head of the defunct Scorpions, would be in the unit.

"I have already been working with advocate Andrea Johnson to determine the status of cases already being dealt with in the NPA.

"She has identified many of the challenges that need to be addressed in order to make swift progress on these cases," Cronje said.

The immediate focus, she said, would be on co-ordinating, overseeing and strengthening the directorate's capability and capacity to ensure successful investigation, prosecution and recovery of assets.

"So we are in the process of establishing a core operational team, a very small team to lead the directorate alongside me.

"I am pleased we have procured the services of advocate Geoff Budlender SC to provide strategic legal advice on a range of topics relating to preparing these cases for court."

Cronje said the directorate had also secured the return of Mngwengwe to the NPA.

The former operational head of the Scorpions was seconded to eSwatini (Swaziland), where he headed the national anti-corruption agency. 

NDPP Shamila Batohi said the investigative directorate would deal with a few cases only.

"We really need to capacitate the rest of the NPA, as well as the Hawks, because a large number of these case will be dealt with by the (NPA’s specialised commercial crimes unit)," Batohi said at a media briefing to introduce Cronje to the public.