LETTER: Criminal justice reform lacks political will

by | Mar 23, 2021 | General, Glenister Case, Integrity Commission | 0 comments

22 March 2021 – 20:14 https://spkt.io/e/1691450

Steven Gruzd omits two important factors from his discussion of the topic of the reform of the criminal justice administration in SA (“It takes more than a single agency to fight corruption”,  March 18). The first is that genuine and sustained political will is required to make a success of any system created to fight the corrupt.

His examples, drawn from the difficult experiences in postcolonial Africa, are all of the “Big Men” continuing to enjoy their “turn to eat” while paying lip service to addressing concerns around corruption to keep foreign aid and investment flowing. They want to look good while the surreptitious feasting on public funds continues unabated, as in “covidpreneurism”.

The fates of Vusi Pikoli, Anwa Dramat and Robert McBride illustrate that the necessary political will has been absent in the recent history of SA, going back at least as far as the infamous arms deals of 1999.

Second, Gruzd does not refer to the binding judicial precedents set for the SA government in the “Stirs” criteria of the Glenister litigation. A single agency of specialists, trained, independent and properly resourced with secure tenure of office is what the law requires. The national executive committee of the ANC has recognised these criteria and the cabinet is edging towards them.

Secure tenure necessitates a constitutional body that cannot be dissolved by a simple political majority as the Scorpions, with mere statutory status, were in 2009.

It is a simple matter to excise carefully defined corruption from the mandates of the Hawks, National Prosecuting Authority and Office of the Public Protector. The Special Investigating Unit does not have criminal jurisdiction and could usefully be folded into the new agency with the brightest and best from the SA Revenue Service, Independent Police Investigative Directorate and other existing institutions.

Careful selection criteria and integrity testing will be imperative, as will the proposed reporting line to parliament. Executive influence, interference and instruction must end.

Paul Hoffman
Accountability Now

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