More than a week after the Zondo Commission chastised the NPA for its failure to take on state capture, the state has finally responded – with the announcement that a new ‘task force’ would focus on these cases.

In a joint statement released yesterday, notes News24, the NPA and the Hawks promised that they would ‘systematically (be) reviewing the commission's findings and recommendations, with a view to investigating and building cases for criminal prosecution against those who broke the law, be they from the public or private sectors’.

This, they said, ‘will include, where appropriate, the freezing and forfeiture of the proceeds of crimes’.

While cautious about promising that there would be successful prosecutions of alleged state capture corruption, the NPA said it was ‘exploring options to boost its capacities, capabilities and resources’ – with the help of ‘National Treasury, DPSA and the Solicitor-General's Office, and with the support of the Minister and the DG of Justice’.

The prosecuting authority welcomed offers made by a number of business and civil society organisations to assist it in the investigation and prosecution of complex corruption matters, but stressed that it would insulate itself ‘from any perceptions of external influence’.

In response to the commission's first report, the NPA has created a dedicated task force, co-ordinated at the highest levels within the NPA.

‘An urgent review of all cases covered in the report, including those already proclaimed by the NPA's Investigating Directorate, will be conducted. The task force's main focus is on progress and impact. It builds on the work already done within the NPA over the past few years, in collaboration with the Zondo Commission and other law enforcement partners,’ the statement says.

The NPA also said it ‘noted’ the finding that its failure to respond ‘adequately, or at all’ to the challenges of state capture corruption ‘points to a fundamental failure of a sovereign state function’ and that its institutional weaknesses must be addressed.

According to the News24 report, the NPA also stated that NDPP Shamila Batohi had ‘publicly acknowledged the challenges facing the NPA, including its efforts to prosecute high-level corruption matters’ and had ‘highlighted the associated challenges facing the NPA's law enforcement counterparts, and the impact this has on the NPA's ability to prosecute complex crimes’.

‘Rebuilding the NPA after years of being undermined by state capture actors was never going to be quick or easy. Yet, significant progress has been made, and the NPA is slowly but surely being rebuilt to enable it to deliver on its vital mandate. The NPA will also continue prioritising internal processes to ensure that any prosecutors engaged in acts of criminality or improper conduct, including in the context of state capture, are dealt with effectively and fairly. Furthermore, given the importance of avoiding the future capture of the NPA, or any other state institution, which brought SA close to financial collapse, it is crucial that the NPA's de jure and de facto independence be assured, including in terms of its relationship with the executive and in the manner in which the NPA's senior leadership is appointed. As the NPA ramps up the prosecution of those implicated in state capture, it is crucial that its actions are, and are seen to be, independent of any undue influence. Anything short of this, will undermine South Africans' trust and confidence in the rule of law and due process, which is, for various reasons, already at concerningly low levels.’

Full News24 report