The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) revealed to the security and justice committee on Wednesday that a lack of facilities and legal powers is hampering the ability of the Directorate of Investigation (DI) to carry out complex investigations into financial crimes detailed in the Zondo Commission report. .
Adv. Glynnis Breytenbach, the DA’s shadow minister for justice and constitutional development, says there is an urgent need for the OD to be made permanent to ensure its future stability. “Legislation that would grant the OD greater powers remains outstanding. The government’s failure to provide this support to the OD now seriously jeopardizes the ability of the NPA and the OD to successfully prosecute state capture cases.”
She believes that amendments to legislation are urgently needed to make it possible for the OD to appoint criminal investigators, as the OD currently depends on a limited number of seconded staff. “These amendments will also provide security of appointment for its officers, which will help them carry out long-term investigations and make the OD more attractive for the recruitment of specialized skills. Some of these urgently needed skills include forensic investigators, data analysts and cyber forensics experts.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in October last year that the OD would become a permanent entity within the NPA.
“The current temporary status of the OD now appears to be a significant weak point in the country’s fight against high-level corruption. This weakness in permanence and skills was fully illustrated in the failure to successfully extradite the Guptas and the complete collapse of the Nulane case.”
The DA insists that the national government will quickly process the legislation that will give the OD independence and additional investigative powers.
“This will strengthen the OD and its capabilities to conduct complex corruption investigations. Without this action, accountability will remain elusive. If this legislation is not dealt with urgently, the unfair conclusion must be drawn that the government lacks the political will to tackle corruption effectively or in its entirety, and that it is dragging its feet to protect its own interests.”
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