‘We win some, we lose some’

2013-06-02 14:00

It is unfortunate that we are not able to test allegations from “senior former leaders” against the specifics of what they raise.

However, it must be pointed out that there is a perception that continues to plague the legacy of the NPA of selected prosecutions, because of how section 204 indemnities were given in an unconsidered manner in serious cases.

The personal crusade driven by the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) must be seen for what it is.

Casac recently said the NPA was in a crisis.

Apart from conflating issues of performance on cases, with allegations about a leadership crisis and political insinuations, Casac loses focus on the Constitution and how criminal law works.

It has simply also been disingenuous in its outbursts.

It nit-picks a few select cases without acknowledging the overall successful performance in hundreds of thousands of other cases to provide a balanced view.

How is their approach balanced and objective? And the media simply plays along without questioning that balance.

Instead of making a genuine effort to assist all South Africans to better understand the Constitution, (Casac) often goes off at a tangent to attack the NPA.

In a desperate effort to succeed at all costs, they have clutched at different straws in an attempt to paint a bleak picture about an agency that is critical in the criminal justice system.

Suggestions that there is low morale at the NPA are devoid of any truth.

They are but empty claims intended to create?consternation.

You will do well to read our annual reports to get the full picture of the excellent work that our prosecutors achieve, despite the challenges of capacity shortage and financial constraints.

Prosecutors are as good as the evidence and witness testimony that is available to them. Prosecutors are not responsible for investigations and gathering evidence.

We win some, we lose some – on the basis of specific circumstances and merits related to each case.

That is the exact principle of justice served.

This is a situation the world over. This is not only peculiar to the South African situation.

The NPA has since the inception of the current measuring system – this dates as far back as 1999 – maintained a uniform approach to conviction rates.

The consistency in the measurement is important for trend analysis over past years. For the financial year (April 2012 to March 2013), the NPA has decided to institute prosecutions in 108?822 dockets and declined to prosecute in 233?409 dockets.

This means prosecution was instituted in 32% of cases from the dockets where decisions were made.

Not all dockets referred to the NPA contain sufficient evidence and therefore cannot be

taken to court. The police only have limited authority in closing dockets without referring them to the NPA.

It is important to keep a distinction between the responsibility areas of the SA Police Service and the NPA.

Detection rates in certain crimes are very low and solving the crimes falls outside the NPA’s responsibility area.

Apart from the dockets with insufficient evidence, summonses are issued and in some cases the accused do pay admission of guilt fines.

To measure the number of prosecutions instituted against the dockets referred from the police cannot be used as an indicator of the performance of the NPA.

»?Makeke is NPA spokesperson

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