An investigative directorate – tasked specifically with probing corruption and associated offences – is on the cards for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
President Cyril Ramaphosa made this announcement during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) and the last of the fifth administration on Thursday evening.
The President said the idea of the directorate is borne from the issues emerging from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and other commissions.
He described the submissions made at the commissions as “deeply disturbing”, adding that they “reveal a breadth and depth of criminal wrongdoing that challenges the very foundation of our democratic state”.
Taking a firm stance, President Ramaphosa said beyond the commissions, evidence of criminal activity must be tried in the courts.
“While these commissions will in time make findings and recommendations in line with their mandates, evidence of criminal activity that emerges must be evaluated by the criminal justice system.
“Where there is a basis to prosecute, prosecutions must follow swiftly and stolen public funds must be recovered urgently,” he said.
To this end, President Ramaphosa said he and the new National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi who took over the reins at the NPA on February 1, had agreed that there is an urgent need to establish the Directorate, in accordance with section 7 of the NPA Act.
“I will soon be promulgating a proclamation that will set out the specific terms of reference of the Directorate,” said the President.
In broad terms, the Directorate will focus on the evidence that has emerged from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, other commissions and disciplinary inquiries.
“It will identify priority cases to investigate and prosecute and will recover assets identified to be the proceeds of corruption,” said the President.
According to the President, the Directorate will bring together a range of investigatory and prosecutorial capacity from within government and in the private sector under an investigating director reporting to the NDPP.
“In the longer term, we will work with the NPA and other agencies of law enforcement to develop a more enduring solution that will strengthen the capacity of the criminal justice system to deal with corruption,” said the President.