Johannesburg – The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) said on Wednesday that the ongoing work of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture should not be used as an excuse to delay criminal prosecutions where sufficient evidence of wrongdoing already existed.
This comes after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) withdrew corruption charges against Duduzane Zuma earlier in the day.
Prosecutors withdrew the matter pending further evidence, possibly from the ongoing state capture commission, where allegations were heard that former deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas, was offered a bribe of R600 million by the Guptas, Duduzane’s business associates.
The NPA said that prosecutors wanted to wait until Jonas, whom Duduzane was accused of trying to bribe, had finished giving evidence at the commission, which could include being cross-examined by Duduzane’s father, former president Jacob Zuma.
"The state capture commission may take years to finalise," said advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA’s chief legal officer. "Historically, commissions can take years to reach finality. The public and those who suffer the negative effect of corruption should not have to wait."
Fick said that the commission’s work and prosecutions should be parallel processes.
“The state capture commission was never intended to deal with punishment. If the NPA now refuses to prosecute, does this mean nothing is going to happen to the perpetrators? Where is the justice in that?” asked Fick.
She said this approach could result in prosecutions over state capture crimes being put on hold indefinitely, which was not in the interests of justice.
"South Africa needs answers, the NPA should provide proper reasons for not tackling these corrupt activities. This is not the time to be sitting back," said Fick.
She said OUTA found it ironic that the African National Congress was refusing to act against prominent members who had been implicated in evidence before the commission – such as minister Nomvula Mokonyane and MP Vincent Smith – just because the commission had not yet finished its work, while at the same time, the NPA was failing to prosecute.
“The NPA’s decision to place prosecutions on hold has the effect of perpetrating a culture of impunity," said Fick.
African News Agency (ANA)