Batohi threatened with court action

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Adv. Shamila Batohi  Photo: Ian Carbutt
Adv. Shamila Batohi Photo: Ian Carbutt

Accountability Now has threatened to drag National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss advocate Shamila Batohi to court to force her to investigate and prosecute former president Jacob Zuma, Police Minister Bheki Cele and other high-profile cases.

In a letter to Batohi two months ago, Accountability Now director advocate Paul Hoffman, SC, accused the NPA boss and her office of dragging their feet in investigating and prosecuting several high-profile cases.

The public interest entity wants the NPA to expedite the prosecution of Zuma and his former Justice minister, Michael Masutha, for the 2013 “illegal and corrupt” removal of Mxolisi Nxasana as National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).

The organisation also wants the NPA to speedily investigate and prosecute Cele for his involvement in the irregular awarding of two R1,7 billion lease contracts when he was police commissioner in 2010.

In the letter, Hoffman said the NPA should also expeditiously investigate and try advocate Seth Nthai for soliciting a R5 million bribe from an Italian businessperson, and all public servants who facilitated the spending of R246 million to upgrade Zuma’s Nkandla compound.

Further, Accountability Now wants prosecutors to investigate the Zuma twins, Duduzane and Duduzile, for allegedly inciting violence during the July unrest, which left over 300 people dead.

Accountability Now is not the only entity that is frustrated by the NPA’s snail’s pace of prosecutions.

On Monday, News24 reported Eskom was equally frustrated by its slow progress in prosecuting 54 cases referred to prosecutors by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

The power utility said it would consider private prosecutions should the NPA not show progress in prosecuting the cases before its prosecutors.

Hoffman threatened to approach the courts, seeking an order to force Batohi to investigate all the cases and prosecute where necessary.

“Waiting for action from the NPA has become intolerable, and the violation of its obligation to attend to its constitutional duties diligently and without delay can no longer be ignored in our correspondence with you and your staff.

“An obvious way forward would be an application to the high court for a declarator, mandamus and supervision order.”

The lack of progress on these cases has prompted Accountability Now to suggest and propose remedial legislation and a constitutional amendment of the National Prosecutions Act to address the problem.

Batohi’s special advisor, advocate Mthunzi Mhaga, said: “We confirm that we received correspondence from Accountability Now through advocate Hoffman. The matters inquired about fall within the purview of various units within the NPA.

“Regrettably, the process of collating information is taking longer than it should, hence the delay in comprehensively responding to advocate Hoffman. We will immediately respond regarding those matters that we have the relevant information on and will send the outstanding information as soon as the same is received, which we are trying to expedite.”

Corruption Watch’s executive director, David Lewis, said as much as the organisation was impatient with the NPA, he recognised prosecuting criminal cases was difficult. 

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