AFU staying - Radebe
Cape Town - Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Wednesday insisted the acclaimed Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) would "remain intact" as it had a vital part to play in achieving government's crime fighting goals.
Radebe told reporters a contentious strategic plan unveiled by National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane last month which would have whittled away the autonomy of the unit, was on hold.
He described the plan as "subjected to the context" of the government's justice and security performance delivery contract with President Jacob Zuma.
"One point that I will make very clear is that the Asset Forfeiture Unit remains intact as I believe it has to play a very critical role, in particular (to) corruption where we expect that by 2014 we will successfully convict at least 100 people who have assets of more than R5m restrained."
Other units also staying
Radebe said three other specialised units within the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) - the specialised commercial crime unit, the priority crimes litigation unit and the sexual offences unit - would also continue work in their current form.
Simelane's five-year plan for the NPA had sought to decentralise the units by making their staff report to regional prosecution directors.
AFU head Willie Hofmeyr and his counterparts at the other units would have been reduced to the status of special advisors in Simelane's office.
But the proposal was put on hold after Radebe, who told MPs he had not been consulted, held an hour-long meeting with Simelane last week dominated by discussion of the future of the AFU.
The ministry however supports Simelane's ultimatum to Hofmeyr to choose between running the AFU and the corruption-fighting Special Investigating Unit. He had been in charge of both since 2001.
A source close to the minister said there was no firm deadline for Hofmeyr to announce a decision, but he had been asked to do so "as soon as humanly possible".
Briefing reporters ahead of his budget vote speech, Radebe said the security and justice cluster's performance contract stated eight broad goals.
These included reducing crime, especially violent crime, integrating the criminal justice system, fighting corruption in general and within the cluster, managing perceptions of crime and ensuring an efficient system for protecting South Africa's borders.
He said the ministries concerned this week started working on a delivery mechanism, which would be handed to the president and signed by him.
Radebe side-stepped a question on whether he would resign if the cluster failed to live up to its commitments, but added: "If there is no performance, there has to be a censor of some sort."