Finding of the Ngcobo panel that the president may have contravened section 34 of Precca could prove a big test of the rule of law and the NPA
05 December 2022
The finding of the Ngcobo panel that the president may have contravened section 34 of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca) could prove a big test of the rule of law and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in SA.
The panel found that, on the face of it, the president has committed the statutory crime of failing to report a burglary involving more than R100,000 that occurred at his Phala Phala farm on February 9 2020. The president says he left it to SA Police Service’s Gen Wally Rhoode to do the necessary. The necessary involves a report to the Hawks, but no such report has ever been made. Accordingly, on his own version, the president is prima facie guilty of contravening Precca as it was his close corporation, in which he is the sole member, from which the US currency was stolen.
Whether the NPA is willing to take the finding of the panel, chaired by a former chief justice, sufficiently seriously to open an investigation and prepare charges diligently and without delay in a manner that reflects no fear of the president, no favour to his enemies and no prejudice to the public, will be a big test of the independence of operation of its Investigating Directorate.
Ironically, the latter was formed by presidential proclamation in 2019 to better counter corruption in high places. The president who so proclaimed is the same individual who faces possible impeachment on the basis of the Ngcobo panel finding that he has, prima facie, committed a crime.
Will he be hoist by his own petard, as Shakespeare put it in Hamlet?
Paul Hoffman, SC, Director, Accountability Now