National director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi. Picture: ALON SKUY
National director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi. Picture: ALON SKUY

The cash-strapped National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will receive an additional R1.3bn over the medium term, which is set to bolster the fight against corruption. 

The additional cash was detailed in the medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) tabled in parliament on Wednesday by finance minister Tito Mboweni.

Grouped with a R1bn allocation to Sars, the medium-term budget said “these funding shifts will bolster efforts to combat corruption and improve revenue collection”. 

Making more funds available for the NPA is critical, especially in the light of national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi telling the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services in July that without urgent intervention it would be “extremely difficult to meet the demands on the NPA”.

One of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s key promises since he took the reins has been to restore the integrity of the NPA. While his appointments of Batohi and Hermione Cronje, the head of the new investigating directorate, have been hailed, the critique has been that the government has not put its money where its mouth is in the fight against corruption.

The priorities over the medium-term for peace and security are to improve efficiency and integrate interventions across different departments and entities within the justice, crime prevention and security cluster. 

“From the 2020 medium-term expenditure framework period onwards, funding will be re-allocated from the SA Police Service to other departments and entities within this function to implement the integrated criminal justice strategy,” the medium-term budget said. 

Some of these funds will be used to improve prosecution capacity, including for the sexual offences and community affairs unit that focuses on violence against women.

Funds will also be used to finance various corruption-fighting units and to combat cyber-crime. 

“Funds will also be re-allocated to the directorate for priority crime investigation [the Hawks] to appoint additional investigators to address the backlog of corruption cases, and to the departments of defence and home affairs to enhance border security,” the medium-term budget said. 

Glynnis Breytenbach, the DA’s spokesperson on justice, who is also a former senior state prosecutor, said the additional allocation of R1.3bn is “wonderful” and that it will go some way to alleviate the NPA’s problems. “If they use the money sensibly, they can certainly use it to make a difference.”

Batohi said she was extremely heartened by the additional budget injection into the NPA.

She said it reflected a significant vote of confidence from the president and the minister of finance.

Batohi said they did not take it for granted, as the NPA knew how much of a balancing act Mboweni must have had in the reprioritisation process.

"The budget will go a long way in addressing the major capacity and skills constraints the NPA is facing and will contribute to improving morale and the service delivery environment for  prosecutors," she said.

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