Johannesburg - South Africans’ dissatisfaction with the slow pace of progress in prosecuting those implicated in state capture, corruption is not ideal but understandable even though it is difficult to deal with.
This is the view of retired Constitutional Court Justice Richard Goldstone who on Thursday warned that corruption was no different to load shedding.
”Corruption is like load shedding. It has become a daily phenomenon in South Africa,” Goldstone said.
He was speaking at an International Anti-Corruption Day webinar themed Anti-corruption Efforts in South Africa Today, which was organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, associated with Germany’s outgoing ruling party, the Christian Democratic Union, and Accountability Now.
Justice Goldstone said from experience as the first prosecutor of the United Nations international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, officials responsible for prosecuting the graft could not expect patience from the public.
”It is the perception of many that there has been little transparency from the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority),” he said.
DA MP Glynis Breytenbach, a former state prosecutor, said South African citizens of SA were punch drunk from corruption and that people were tired of it.
”I don’t think the numbers involved even make an impact, huge as they are.
“There is a lot of speculation about political interference (in the NPA). Very few people are left in the NPA with the requisite experience to prosecute these types of crimes,” she said.
Breytenbach declared that National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi inherited a very bankrupt and politically fraught organisation.
She was mildly critical of the lack of progress as there appeared to be no political will to go after large scale corruption and cited the example of the NPA’s budget being cut twice since cases of Covid-19 were reported in South Africa.
Breytenbach has warned that the fight against corruption will be very slow as long as the NPA is not given money to procure the skills needs to fight corruption – forensic, information technology and cyber.
The DA is expected to introduce a constitutional amendment to establish an independent corruption-fighting state organ that will be shielded from political interference.
Breytenbach said the official opposition supported the idea of an independent corruption-fighting organ that would be housed in chapter nine of the Constitution alongside institutions such as the Public Protector, Auditor-General, SA Human Rights Commission and the Electoral Commission of SA, among others.
She said this would help put the proposed new institution outside the realm of political interference and would empower it to recruit skilled people who would enjoy security of tenure.
Breytenbach has said this process is under way and that she hopes to have the constitutional amendment bill ready early in the new year.
She has said the bill will have to go to Parliament’s constitutional review committee.
”It’s a tedious process; we hope to have the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services supporting the bill. I’m hoping to convince other parties to support the bill. I am hopeful that we will be successful in that regard,” Breytenbach said.