National director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi. Picture: GCIS
National director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi. Picture: GCIS

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will establish an investigating directorate, which will focus on evidence that has emerged at the state capture commission, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday night.

Ramaphosa said it had been agreed with new national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi that the directorate be established in her office, to deal with serious corruption and associated offences. 

Ramaphosa would soon promulgate a proclamation that would set out the specific terms of reference of the directorate. 

The now-defunct Scorpions was the last investigative directorate within the NPA. The Scorpions was shut down by the ANC government in January 2009. 

The Hawks, which forms part of the South African Police Service (SAPS), was established to fill that void. The Hawks, like the NPA, was seen to be political, influenced under former president Jacob Zuma. 

Ramaphosa said the new directorate would focus on the evidence given at the state capture commission, chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, as well as other commissions and disciplinary inquiries. 

“It will identify priority cases to investigate and prosecute, and will recover assets identified to be the proceeds of corruption,” he said. 

“The directorate will bring together a range of investigatory and prosecutorial capacity from within the government and in the private sector under an investigating director reporting to the NDPP.”

Ramaphosa said that in the longer term, the government would work with the NPA and other law-enforcement agencies to develop more “enduring solutions”, which would strengthen the criminal justice system to deal with corruption.

The president said the action taken to end corruption and hold people accountable would determine the pace and trajectory of radical social and economic transformation. 

“The revelations emerging from the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture and other commissions are deeply disturbing, for they reveal a breadth and depth of criminal wrongdoing that challenges the very foundation of our democratic state,” he said. 

He commended the commissions for working under challenging circumstances. 

“While these commissions will, in time, make findings and recommendations in line with their mandates, evidence of criminal activity that emerges must be evaluated by the criminal justice system.

“Where there is a basis to prosecute, prosecutions must follow swiftly and stolen public funds must be recovered urgently,” Ramaphosa said.