You will soon see things starting to happen - NPA's Hermione Cronje assures frustrated South Africans

Investigating Directorate in the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions advocate Hermione Cronje speaks after being introduced during a media briefing at NPA Head Office. (Phill Magakoe, Gallo Images, file)
Investigating Directorate in the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions advocate Hermione Cronje speaks after being introduced during a media briefing at NPA Head Office. (Phill Magakoe, Gallo Images, file)

Hermione Cronje, the head of the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) Investigative Directorate, has assured South Africans that despite widespread frustration at the lack of state capture-related prosecutions, the NPA is on the verge of action.

"You will see the work that has gone on in the background and I can say that confidently now. I wouldn't have said that as confidently a week ago because… because we have done stuff," she said.

"And those things must speak for themselves as they come to the fore. We know what we're after and we have strategies to get us there. You will see some of these strategies unfolding. Some will be pretty obvious… our time horizon is long.

"We have to hold those responsible for state capture responsible and not only those who did the dirty work. So many people were on the bandwagon. My mantra to my team is: 'Focus.' Because every day someone comes to me and says: 'We can't let this go. This is so important. It's connected to this and if you see how that works…'

"And you just say: 'Cut the losses. Only talk to me about what is needed to advance our objectives to get us to the next milestone.'"

READ | Less talk and more action, vows NPA boss Batohi

Priority areas

During a stakeholder engagement with journalists at the NPA's head office in Pretoria, Cronje, who built the directorate from scratch, said an enormous amount of work dividing cases into priority areas and work streams had been done over the last couple of months and that the public would soon see it come to fruition.

Sitting next to Shamila Batohi, the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Cronje said she shared South Africans' frustrations at the lack of accountability and explained that she has, over the last while, even considered going to court herself to get the ball rolling.

"I am as frustrated as the next person. I tell my family I can't go outside anymore. People look at me and they have that 'when?' question on their face and I have to hide," Cronje said.

READ | NPA ready to prosecute culprits in controversial Estina dairy farm project - reports

She added that South Africans will see the "logic and the strategy" once charges are laid.

Cronje revealed that the forensic investigation into the controversial Estina dairy project was nearing completion and that the matter would be ready for re-enrolment at the end of the month.

She and Batohi also referred to other investigations, including Eskom, VBS Mutual Bank and Bosasa, but did not reveal how close they were to completion or what their state of readiness was.

"We are about reclaiming the state from capture. We do not do routine corruption cases. Something very unique happened in our country… something happened which requires a very specific, focused intervention. Because what it achieved is that it destroyed institutions, including those that monitored and held people accountable," Cronje said.

She explained that the directorate initially scoped out the extent of the work that needed to be done and decided on which problems they wanted to tackle and how they were going to do it. Cases were then prioritised.

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