Minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has spoken tough on law enforcement agencies and the judiciary for failing to prosecute cases speedily.
Dlamini-Zuma says there seems to be a rush to arrest but then cases drag in court because of outstanding investigations.
She was speaking on Tuesday at the launch of the local government anti-corruption forum in Pretoria. The forum comprises the government, the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), and the SA Local Government Association, among others.
Dlamini-Zuma said everyone needed to be held accountable for the role they played in corruption, and said law enforcement agencies must also be held accountable.
“They must be impartial and must do their work,” she said.
She mentioned her “criticism” of the agencies and wanted an “explanation” why people were arrested only to have their cases dragged on for years in court.
“You arrest somebody today and three years later, the case has not even started. You say we are still investigating. What does that mean? Why did you arrest if you had not investigated? I mean if it is six or nine months later, I can understand, but years later… Did you arrest because there was a case or did you arrest because [you are still trying to find something]? I don’t know. I don’t know. That is why I am asking.”
Dlamini-Zuma said there was an ambassador whose case was thrown out in court because it kept being postponed as a result of an outstanding investigation.
Dlamini-Zuma said the law enforcement agencies and judiciary “must work and be fair”.
“I am just using that example because that ambassador lost three years of his life, three years of his work until it was the judge that said ‘no’ and threw the case out and he was quietly sent to another mission,” she said, adding that there were many other cases she could reference that have been before the court for two to three years and they still had not sat.
Speaking earlier before Dlamini-Zuma, head of the National Public Prosecutions (NPA) Shamila Batohi said the NPA was working hard at dealing with corruption. She said the wheels of justice were turning and that they would be turning “faster in the next weeks”.
She said all stakeholders needed to ensure that the opportunities to be corrupt were reduced.
“And colleagues, let’s face it, one of the serious issues has been political interference. So, we need to understand what we as a country need to do to ensure that we can have the right leaders that will ensure that we win tomorrow,” said Batohi.
Meanwhile, also speaking at the launch, Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya said the unit was currently dealing with 452 cases affecting municipalities. Lebeya said 122 of those cases were already on the court roll and the rest were at the investigation level.
He also said that the Hawks had a permanent structure known as Government Fraud whose role is to deal with fraud and corruption investigations at the local level.