'Struggling' NPA might need to consider donor funding: Lamola
The National Prosecuting Authority is under huge financial constraints, and justice minister Ronald Lamola said the government was seriously considering private donor funding.
On Tuesday, Lamola announced that R3.9bn of the department’s budget would be allocated to the NPA. Of that, R38m would be allocated to start-up expenses of the new investigative directorate meant to investigate state capture and related cases.
“We are in engagement with the National Treasury to see that whatever private funding is intended for the NPA, the NPA is insulated from any form of perceived or real kind of compromise of its independence,” Lamola told journalists following his budget vote speech.
Lamola said the NPA was “really struggling” and needed more money than had been allocated.
“For it to be able to function it needs funding. If the fiscus does not have it, the private donor funding must be able to help us. But how do we ensure that the NPA is insulated from any (conflict)?” Lamola said.
But he added that it was a sensitive matter that the Treasury would advise on.
“Any kind of funding that comes to the NPA should be insulated from the perception of any kind of capture of the NPA,” Lamola said.
National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi said the amount allocated to the investigative directorate was not enough.
“The department of justice has made available R38m, which in itself is not a lot of money considering that many of these are very complex investigations that require a lot of money. These are for startup costs at this stage,” she said.
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Batohi said this money would be used to pay for outside legal counsel, who would be used to tackle the complex cases earmarked by the directorate.
Head of the NPA’s investigative directorate Hermione Cronje is expected to announce the first cases that will be tackled by the directorate later this month.
Batohi said they have also applied for money that was recovered as the proceeds of crime in the Criminal Asset Recovery Account (Cara) to help fund this directorate.
This, she said, would be in excess of R200m for the next three years.
Batohi said the funds for the directorate - which may include private donors - will be “ring-fenced”, away from the NPA.
The rest of the NPA, Lamola said, was facing a shortfall of R121.5m for the next financial year.
“We have constraints in all government departments (but) we now have this … societal and public expectation that the NPA has to help us and work and fight the scourge of corruption. So for it to be able to function it needs funding,” he said.
The director-general in the justice department, Vusi Madonsela, said the lack of funding for crime-fighting institutions was a result of fiscal constraints across the government.
He said all departments received far less than what they needed.
The department of justice has allocated R31.4m to the office of the public protector, while the Special Investigating Unit will receive R363m for the next financial year.
Legal Aid South Africa will get R1.9bn, while the South African Human Rights Commission will receive R189.2m.