Hermione Cronje, right. Picture: GCIS
Hermione Cronje, right. Picture: GCIS

Those who orchestrated and benefited from the looting of state coffers, and not just the “foot soldiers of corruption”, will face the might of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) investigating directorate, the unit’s newly appointed director Hermione Cronje said on Friday. 

Cronje was officially introduced by National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi after her appointment was announced by the presidency last week. Batohi and Cronje were flanked by Hawks boss advocate Godfrey Lebeya and national police commissioner Khehla Sitole, who represent SA’s key law enforcement players.

The investigating directorate, which gives the NPA extra teeth, will focus on complex and high-profile corruption cases, some of which have arisen out of the various commissions of inquiry, such as those into state capture, Sars, and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).

The directorate was established by presidential proclamation earlier this year as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bid to fight corruption.

Cronje, whose appointment has been lauded, said the directorate will only take a limited number of cases that will be “very high impact”.

“Our case selection criteria will ensure that we address those who planned, orchestrated or instigated the corruption of the system and those who ultimately derived the benefit of the looting of state coffers, not only those foot soldiers who [were] merely implicated their corrupt schemes,” Cronje said at a briefing at the NPA offices.

She said the directorate will focus on restoring the integrity of the government and of the criminal justice system. It will broadly focus on three areas: corruption in the security sector; corruption in state-owned enterprises (SOEs); and other high-level and private-sector corruption.

She says this will include a focus on “those who have systematically and actively sought to corrupt government procurement systems and processes for private gain, or private-sector corruption that undermines the security of the country or impacts disproportionately on the lives of ordinary people”. 

Cronje also announced that renowned advocate Geoff Budlender will provide strategic legal advice for the directorate, and that the former operational head of the Scorpions, Thanda Mngwengwe, will return to the NPA.

The directorate has worked closely with the police and the Hawks, which have already dedicated senior staff to assist with the establishment of the unit.