Ramaphosa: The NPA must prosecute VBS Mutual Bank looters, not me

VBS Mutual Bank.
VBS Mutual Bank.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said that there are independent institutions mandated by the Constitution to prosecute those guilty of misconduct, and it would not be right for him, the deputy president or Cabinet to start criminal prosecutions.

The president was giving oral replies before the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon. He was asked by National Freedom Party MP Shaik Emam why no one behind the looting at VBS Mutual Bank has yet been criminally prosecuted.

VBS Mutual Bank was placed under curatorship by the Reserve Bank in March 2018 due to a liquidity crisis. The bank was later liquidated. An investigation by advocate Terry Motau into what led to the bank's collapse found that R1.9bn had been looted from the bank and recommended over 50 people be criminally charged.

"I know there is a great deal of impatience in the nation and a measure of impatience that almost wants to see the roles the executives plays and the roles of independent institutions set up by the Constitution conflated. We cannot have a situation like that, where the executive is the executioner of justice," Ramaphosa said.

"We have institutions like the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), investigative institutions like the police, like the Hawks," he said. "All these institutions are carefully set up by the Constitution to deal with matters germane to the area under which they are operating in," he added.

"The NPA is the one that initiates prosecutions following investigation and arrest by the police… Let us allow them as they rebuild, reposition and refashion themselves to do the work they are Constitutionally mandated to do. Let us not interfere in the work they have to do.

"I would like to give them space and all the resources needed to do their work. It is they who must take the decision on who must be prosecuted," Ramaphosa said.

The day the president takes such a decision it means that the state will have conflated the roles the independent institution must play with the role of the executive authority, he said.

He gave his assurance that justice would be administered, and that NPA head Shamila Batohi is working on rebuilding the institution to take appropriate action.

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