'They are still walking our streets freely' - City of Joburg gives ultimatum to NPA over corruption cases

2019-10-02 16:11
Herman Mashaba. (Photo: Gallo Images)

Herman Mashaba. (Photo: Gallo Images)

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City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has written to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to resolve an "impasse" with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) over several corruption cases, he said on Wednesday.

Mashaba said he and his team had been in a two-year battle with the NPA to convince it to prosecute several serious cases referred to it by the city's Group Forensic and Investigating Service (GFIS).

"Through GFIS, the City of Johannesburg has investigated thousands of cases of corruption involving officials who have abused their position within the City for personal gain."

Mashaba alleged that the NPA had "not shown much enthusiasm" in deciding whether to further investigate or prosecute these cases it received.

"My team and I have been engaging with the NPA over the past two years, in good faith, in order to ensure that the City’s matters are brought to finality and justice is served," he said.

Little progress

"These engagements, albeit constant, yielded very little results and very little progress has occurred on the matters we have referred to the prosecuting authority.  As a result, public officials and businessmen who stole millions from the City are still walking our streets freely without any fear of being held to account for their criminality."

He hoped that by writing to Lamola, he would avoid having to take the "drastic step" of dragging the NPA to court.

Nonetheless, he had issued the NPA with an ultimatum and deadline of October 7 to decide whether to prosecute these referred cases.

If that failed, the City would approach the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to compel the NPA to do so and make a formal application for nolle prosequi certificates.

This would allow the city the chance to take the private prosecution route with the fraud and corruption cases.

Lamola's spokesperson Chrisphin Phiri said it was not clear what Mashaba hoped to achieve by writing to the ministry.

"He is actually asking the minister to interfere with the prosecutorial decisions of the NPA."

NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said the DPP Johannesburg office has been in constant contact with the Mayor's office, providing regular updates on progress in these matters.

She added that the NDPP head Shamila Batohi had also confirmed this when Mashaba escalated his concerns to her. Makeke said Batohi advised that the DPP's report would receive attention in her office. 

"Issuing an ultimatum, under these circumstances, where the NPA has not declined to prosecute, but is trying to address the matters raised by the Mayor, along with many other cases that need attention, undermines the NPA’s independence and is accordingly unlawful," she said.

"Compelling the NPA to act in a certain way is an infringement of its independence in that it amounts to improper interference in the performance of the NPA’s constitutionally and statutorily mandated powers and functions."

Read more on:    herman mashaba  |  johannesburg ­
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