Editorial

Action at last against the capture cadres - even if they're still on the ANC list

07 April 2019 - 00:00 By SUNDAY TIMES


Ever since public hearings at the Zondo commission of inquiry began in August, South Africans have been gripped by a flood of evidence of wilful and flagrant corruption involving looting money from the state. When this newspaper published the first set of Gupta e-mails reflecting the improper hold of that family over senior politicians, we knew we were opening a process of unearthing corruption on an unprecedented scale in SA.
With every passing week, we hear of different players entrusted with senior positions in the governing party or the state collaborating in corruption at levels few could have imagined. The Gupta and Bosasa networks fed off billions of rands of taxpayers' money by paying off people in the right places. More recently, we learnt of astounding gangster activities in the Free State, reportedly driven by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
While such revelations should be welcomed as they will go a long way in aiding efforts to fix this country, the danger, of course, is that our nation is becoming scandal-fatigued. There is also increasing despondency that, despite all this evidence in the public domain, the atmosphere of impunity prevails.
The appointment of Shamila Batohi as national director of public prosecutions gave hope that cases would at last be brought to court.
On her first day in the job two months ago, her message was: "Perpetrators of corruption and crime within the state and private sector - regardless of who you are, how rich you are, and what position you hold - your days of acting with impunity are numbered."
Batohi also gave us this assurance: "I know everyone is hungry for justice. You have every right to be.
Serious allegations have emerged, some old and some new, but all damning if they are found to have any basis in fact at all. What is emerging is distressing in the extreme and will receive immediate attention."
This week, as we report on page 2, Batohi has signed authorisation for collaboration with the Zondo commission to fast-track the prosecution of those implicated in corruption. She has also assigned a crack team led by top prosecutors Andrea Johnson and Matric Luphondo to pursue criminal cases emerging from the Zondo commission.
This co-operation agreement between the commission and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) means there is no reason to wait until the completion of the commission to proceed with prosecutions. And this is what many of you have been asking for.
We welcome this move, particularly in light of the fact that some of the people implicated in corruption have been disdainful of the commission and the public.
They have used the failure of the criminal justice system to hold them to account as a licence to return to parliament without making any attempt to explain their ill-gotten gains.
It is thus intolerable that the South African electorate is being asked to vote for parties contaminated by state capture and corruption, and whose candidates might be in the dock while serving as "honourable members of parliament". There is an unfair reliance on the NPA to clean out the political system because parties refuse to take action against those who sold themselves to the highest bidder - or even clean up their party lists. Imagine being asked for your vote to send Mosebenzi Zwane, Faith Muthambi, David Mahlobo, Malusi Gigaba and Bathabile Dlamini back to parliament. That is what the ANC is asking for.
When she was appointed, Batohi asked the South African public for time to stabilise the NPA and to get the right people in the right places. She seems to be making headway and is now in a position to present cases to court. It might be too late to prevent some of those implicated returning as public representatives, but there is at least hope of holding people accountable for the contagion of state capture.
Our restless nation desperately needs this.

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