President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday announced that Hermione Theresa Cronje would head up the NPA unit tasked with investigating state capture offences. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday announced that Hermione Theresa Cronje would head up the NPA unit tasked with investigating state capture offences. Picture: GCIS

Veteran prosecutor advocate Hermione Theresa Cronje has been appointed to head the so-called state capture investigative arm of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for the next five years.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Friday that he had appointed her to the investigating directorate in the office of the national director of public prosecutions.

Cronje, who worked at the NPA from 1998 until 2012, will head the directorate, which has been dubbed the "new Scorpions". The directorate is aimed at expediting investigations and prosecutions of state capture cases.

In the statement, the presidency said: "The directorate will investigate any unlawful activities relating to serious, high-profile or complex corruption, including but not limited to offences or criminal or unlawful activities arising from current commissions and inquiries."

Cronje’s appointment comes after Ramaphosa proclaimed the establishment of the investigating directorate in March.

"The investigating directorate is tasked with investigating common law offences including fraud, forgery, uttering, theft and any offence involving dishonesty," the statement read.

Well qualified for the job

The presidency says Cronje holds a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government (2010), and a BA (1993) and LLB (1996) from the University of Cape Town.

"From 1998 to 2012, she was employed in various capacities in the NPA — first as an assistant to the first national director of public prosecutions; as founding member of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, and for 10 years as regional head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the Western Cape," the presidency said. 

Cronje was also involved in the establishment of the anticorruption task team (ACTT), a multi-agency task team established to investigate, prosecute and recover the assets of persons involved in large-scale corruption, during her last year at the NPA.

As a practising advocate, Cronje’s anticorruption efforts did not stop when she left the NPA.

"Since 2013, advocate Cronje has been engaged as a consultant on behalf of the stolen assets recovery initiative (Star) — a joint initiative of the World Bank and UNODC. In this capacity she has worked as an adviser and mentor to asset recovery and anticorruption units in Tanzania, Uganda, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova and Sri Lanka," the statement read.

The investigating directorate she will lead in her new role will attend to statutory offences including, but not limited to, contraventions of:

  • The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 6 of 2000
  • The Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1988
  • The Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Act 33 of 2004
  • The Public Finance Management Act 1 of 1999
  • The Municipal Management Act 56 of 2003
  • The Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001, and any other statutory offence involving dishonesty.