Dear Advocate Shamila Batohi
May I be so bold as to address this missive to you and to offer you my congratulations (some might say commiserations) and good wishes on your appointment as head of the National Prosecuting Authority.
Naturally, all law-abiding citizens wish you and your team every success in what must be one of the most difficult assignments in our country, especially in combating corruption.
The Zondo commission of inquiry has, up till now, laid bare the depth and breadth of alleged corruption in just one government department, correctional services.
What possible rot must still be unearthed in the other 30 or more government departments?
To compound matters for you, and us, Madam, there have been allegations of corruption in provincial and municipal governments; parastals; the private sector (yes); the churches and, God forbid, journalism. The list is endless.
Corruption, Madam is so pervasive, one sometimes wonders who is not doing it. Tipp-Ex that thought Madam!
The majority of South Africans are hard-working, honest, law-abiding citizens and many of those allegedly involved in corruption are good women and men turned bad.
So, what is the state of the nation as things stand now with regard to all these revelations and, what’s to come?
We are in a state of trauma, we can’t take it anymore. What we need now is national catharsis.
So what is to be done?
It is accepted by most South Africans, and internationally, that with all its flaws, Madam, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was a bold effort to promote national unity and reconciliation through “healing our past”.
For many victims and families, the process brought some relief and closure, after truthful disclosures by some of the perpetrators of human rights abuses during apartheid.
The TRC remains a benchmark and a world best practice.
Another lesson learnt and which can be borrowed from within our judicial system is the concept of plea bargaining, an effective and convenient tool to unearth the truth and mete out justice.
Now I believe it is well nigh impossible to prosecute most of those allegedly involved in corruption given:
- The pervasiveness of corruption in most sectors of our society;
- The trauma the nation will have to endure through a protracted prosecutorial process;
- The high cost of such a process, especially given that the new investigative unit has no budget;
- The limited human capital in the NPA; and
- That the fightback from some involved in massive corruption will tear our country asunder.
I wish to propose that you, Madam, and other relevant authorities consider a platform where you will invite those who were involved in corruption to come forward and reveal all.
They will need to explain the motivation behind their crimes and return to the state their ill-gotten gains.
As punishment they will have to do correctional or national service and not be allowed to hold public office.
For those who will not come forward for the redemption afforded by you, robust prosecution followed by jail time and the confiscation of the proceeds of their crime will result.
Madam, corruption can never be completely eradicated in any society, but I believe through the above process we can at least manage it, thus ensuring South Africa’s huge transformation project proceeds unhindered.
B Peter Vundla
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