State capture crimes: New NPA head announces specialised prosecutions team
The new national director of public prosecutions (NDPP), Shamila Batohi, is to immediately set up a specialised multidisciplinary team to prosecute people suspected of being involved in state capture.
On her first day of work on Friday, Batohi said she spoke to justice minister Michael Masutha and they had agreed that a specialised team with investigative capabilities be established.
She also said that under her watch, the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would be fiercely protected and if its independence was transgressed, she would be willing to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
"The allegations of state capture are unprecedented in terms of scope, nature and complexity of corruption," Batohi said. "It requires a highly specialised, well-funded entity to be able to deal with this."
She was announced as NDPP in December last year by President Cyril Ramaphosa after a thorough interviewing and shortlisting process.
Batohi, a former legal adviser at the International Criminal Court, said the NPA was facing serious challenges of instability, inefficiency and internal divisions.
"I know everyone out there is hungry for justice. You have every right to be," she said. "Serious allegations have emerged, some old and some new, but all damaging if found to have any basis in facts."
Regardless of how rich you are, your days of acting with impunity are numberedAdvocate Shamila Batohi
Two senior officials at the NPA, Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi, have been subjected to an inquiry into their fitness to hold office.
The Mokgoro inquiry heard this week how the pair spied on the NPA and gave information to politicians.
"The NPA is under a lot of pressure. It requires a very specific response to these issues," Batohi said.
She also used her first media engagement to issue a stern rebuke to criminals.
"Perpetrators of crime and corruption within the state and private sector, regardless of who you are, where you are, how rich you are - your days of acting with impunity are numbered," she said.
The new NPA boss said she is ready to work with the Zondo commission investigating state capture as well as the head of the Special Investigating Unit.
“What is emerging is distressing in the extreme and will receive immediate attention from me and my team,” Batohi said.
Besides evidence of corruption, the Zondo commission has also heard how top prosecutors in the NPA were bribed in exchange for information.