Batohi eyes rampant corruption in healthcare, but hamstrung by lack of capacity

Advocate Shamila Batohi.
Advocate Shamila Batohi.
Felix Dlangamandla

President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched the Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum in partnership with different government stakeholders, including National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi.

Speaking at the launch at the Union Building in Pretoria on Tuesday, Batohi said: "The forum was established by the SIU [Special Investigating Unit] with a view to foster collaboration with stakeholders in the health sector in order to fight rampant corruption, as well as to enhance prevention, detection and prosecution of corruption in this sector."

She added the role of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) within the forum would be to ensure that cases arising from the forum's work would receive the necessary attention.

"The role of the NPA within the forum is to ensure that matters in the health sector, which are referred to the SIU in terms of Section 2(1) of the SIU Act, are prioritised and receive the necessary attention, in line with an MoU [memorandum of understanding] entered into between the NPA and SIU during 2017, which is being reviewed," Batohi said.

She said she was pleased that co-operation between the various stakeholders had improved.

"Bear in mind that the NPA does not investigate and that these matters are investigated by the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation - the Hawks."

Batohi, however, lamented the lack of capacity within the NPA and Hawks, calling on the president to address this.

She said the biggest challenge to investigating and prosecuting was capacity in the NPA and Hawks.

The NPA has received a budget allocation through the adjusted estimates of national expenditure process, which would assist it.

"This will be used primarily to recruit prosecutors in the specialised commercial crimes units and capacity in the Asset Forfeiture Unit.

"However, the Hawks capacity still remains a problem. I take this opportunity to urge the president to address this urgently.

"The Anti-Corruption Task Team [ACTT] structure, which was set up to drive the investigation and prosecution of prioritised corruption cases, has for many reasons been ineffective in the past. 

"But I am pleased that much has improved - there is much better collaboration and there is a plan to enhance efficiency of the ACTT.

"I am confident that this will also assist in ensuring that those responsible for plundering our state coffers will be held accountable," Batohi said.

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