President Cyril Ramaphosa has made an amendment to the state capture inquiry rules which will speed up prosecutions. The Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture has not made any prosecutions in two years and this could prove to be a game changer.
Ramaphosa made the amendment last week, as reported by News24, which will allow law enforcement agencies to gather information that has been presented to the commission. It will also allow various agencies to share documents or information with the NPA after being employed on a consultancy basis. The amendment reads as follows:
“Notwithstanding the provisions of this regulation, any employee of the commission shall not, after the commission has concluded its work – (a) be precluded from being employed or appointed on a consultancy basis by any state law enforcement agency; and (b) after being so employed or appointed be precluded from using or disclosing information, records or documents obtained by him or her during the course of his or her employment by the commission.”
Prior to the amendment the NPA had been crippled by regulations that prevented the sharing of evidence, which slowed down prosecutions due to redundant investigating. Advocate Hermione Cronje has called the new legislation a game changer in South Africa’s political soap opera.
“What we wanted from the Zondo commission is to share information and ideas about lines of enquiry that will be unproductive, and we shouldn’t pursue,” she told News24.
“So, it’s really a sharing of understanding of the problem, us sharing our strategy and saying, ‘Do you think we are on the right track? Do you think we are wasting our time? Are there other areas we should pursue?”
Ropafadzo Maphosa from the University of Johannesburg’s South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law explained further what the state of affairs was and how it slowed down State Capture prosecutions.
“The amendment, therefore, makes it easier for the NPA to access information as the former employees will be able to share evidential material obtained during their tenure at the commission such as phone call records, emails and official documents implicating the perpetrators of corruption,” he said to News24.
“Prior to the amendment, the NPA did not have access to any of the evidence gathered by the commission and any information obtained from observing the public hearings would most likely not have been sufficient to secure corruption convictions.”
The investigation efforts were slowed down by the original legislation, which is why no convictions have been made in over two years of investigations into state capture.
Advocate Cronje also added that all information will remain confidential.
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