Advocate Shamila Batohi discusses challenges and progress in combating corruption and state capture.

Rebuilding the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and fighting corruption has been a challenging process, with state capture cases and geopolitical changes posing significant obstacles.

This is according to the national director of public prosecutions, Advocate Shamila Batohi, who was speaking at a media roundtable on the NPA’s priorities and strategic initiatives on Wednesday morning.

Batohi, however, said that despite these challenges, progress has been made in stabilising the NPA’s leadership, increasing capacity, and collaborating with civil society and international experts.

‘Trauma’ of state capture

The national director, describing state capture as “trauma,”  said she thought the NPA would be “further down the line” in terms of state capture cases.

She went on to later say that the NPA has made notable progress in terms of state capture, while also recognising that a lot more needs to be done and a lot more will be done.

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“Even as a relatively young democracy, we are prosecuting former ministers, the former premier of one of our provinces, the former secretary general of the ruling party, the former president of our country, and also some of the most powerful CEOs and CFOs across the country, in the private sector as well as the public,” she said.

The national director added that in the last five years, almost 700 government officials have been convicted of corruption. The Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU) has achieved 329 convictions in commercial crime cases, and the SCCU has enrolled four cases related to 16 recommendations from the Zondo Commission.

Challenges faced by NPA

Speaking on how the geopolitical landscape has changed since she became national director in 2019, Batohi mentioned the wars being waged in Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Palestine, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Watch the roundtable here:

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Batohi described South Africa’s environment as a “complex political environment.”

“We have loadshedding; we have the poorest and the most vulnerable without basic amenities. We have a country that is wrecked by the highest levels of various types of crimes. We talk about sexual and gender-based violence, various types of organised crime, whether it’s infrastructure, theft, wildlife crime, environmental, or construction industry.”

“We have an increase in kidnappings, assassinations, and femicide matters. The teenage pregnancy scourge in our country is destroying the lives of young girls and children, many of them under 12. So, we are a country under tremendous stress.”

Batohi, however, said that the NPA cannot give up hope and has to continue “fighting the good fight.”

In regard to the extradition of the Gupta brother from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Batohi said the NPA has been trying hard to find out what the problem was with their extradition request but hasn’t received feedback.

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She added that the NPA has been trying to set up a meeting with the UAE’s prosecuting authority for months but has decided to approach the presidency. Deputy President Paul Mashatile is currently in Dubai for a working visit.

“We realised that unless there isn’t that strong a political push in the UAE, we’re going to struggle with this matter,” Batohi said.


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