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NPA hamstrung by cash crisis, may have to shed jobs: Shamila Batohi

10 July 2019 - 10:10 By CLAUDI MAILOVICH
Advocate Shamila Batohi.
Advocate Shamila Batohi.
Image: Alon Skuy

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) does not have enough money to pay all of its salaries this financial year and will have to slash staff by more than 550 if it is to remain within budget over the medium term.

The financial crisis could worsen an already volatile situation at the cash-strapped authority, which is already understaffed and needs more prosecutors.

The dire financial state of the institution, which is tasked with waging war on corruption and state capture, came into focus on Tuesday in parliament, when a delegation from the NPA, led by national director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi, briefed the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services.

Batohi said vacancy rates were about 20% on average in the country. The percentage was even higher at specialised units such as the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit and the Asset Forfeiture Unit, at between 25% and 28%.

In actual terms, the NPA had lost about 600 prosecutors since 2015 as a result of not being able to recruit any new prosecutors, Batohi said.

"That's had a major impact on delivery of services," she said.

The NPA is already reeling from a credibility crisis over the past decade under former president Jacob Zuma.

If not adequately resourced it could throw a spanner in the works of President Cyril Ramaphosa's efforts to cleanse the government of the rampant corruption.