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LETTER: Without a Chapter 9 Integrity Commission, state thievery will continue

It is a poor reflection on SA’s commitment to clean up after the Zuma era that Steinhoff is paying for a probe of its own malfeasance by its own previous directors

23 June 2020 – 17:21

In your editorial in praise of the VBS Mutual Bank initial prosecutions, the conclusion is reached that, “Still, continued support for the NPA, the Hawks and SIU is crucial for Batohi to ensure the list of those in handcuffs extends beyond VBS’s senior management.” (“VBS Mutual Bank arrests a feather in the cap for Shamila Batohi,” June 18).

Sadly, the truth is that SA’s state capture phenomenon has hollowed out the capacity of the NPA which, to quote Hermione Cronje, is “infested with saboteurs” whose agenda is to keep handcuffs well away from ANC bigwigs and others. The Hawks are a creation of state capture; they have never matched the prowess of the Scorpions (they weren’t meant to) and they are both structurally and operationally incapable of rising to the occasion wished for in your editorial.

The SIU can neither arrest nor prosecute. Its comprehensive and damning investigation of Bosasa, on which it reported in 2009, was ignored or deflected for 10 years.

The fact that the president has established, under Cronje’s leadership, an investigative directorate in the NPA (a constitutionally questionable step) suggests that he too has no faith in the Hawks. A best-practice implementation of the binding decision of the Constitutional Court in the 2011 Glenister case, via the establishment of a new Chapter 9 Integrity Commission (Ch9IC) to prevent, combat, investigate and prosecute grand corruption, is actually what is required. Without it the kleptocrats are unlikely to reach orange overalls status soon.

The Ch9IC could engage PwC to do the overflow of forensic accounting spadework, if only the political will to properly resource anticorruption efforts could be mustered in parliament. It is a poor reflection on the country’s commitment to clean up after the Zuma era that Steinhoff is paying for the investigation of its own malfeasance by its own previous directors, who remain scot-free to enjoy the culture of impunity for which Zuma is infamous.

Respect for the rule of law and proper regard for the decisions of our highest court both demand that a Ch9IC or similarly endowed (Stirs compliant) anticorruption entity be established urgently. The Hawks have many other priority crimes to attend to and the good people in the NPA will be relieved to hand over all big corruption dockets to the Ch9IC so that they can get on with the huge post-Covid-19 backlog of ordinary cases.

Paul Hoffman SC
Accountability Now

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