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

In an effort to up the ante on combating corruption, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the Hawks are getting an additional R2.4bn in the 2020 budget, finance minister Tito Mboweni announced on Wednesday.

“This will enable the appointment of about 800 investigators and 277 prosecutors, who will assist with, among other things, clearing the backlog of cases such as those emanating from the state capture commission of inquiry, headed by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.

State capture and corruption have played major roles in crippling the economy.

The NPA has been allocated R1.2bn over the medium term in the 2020 budget. It received no additional funding in the 2019 budget, despite an announcement that a new special investigative directorate would be established.

The new directorate, which focuses on, among others, serious corruption relating to state capture, was set up in the middle of 2019. The NPA, seen as politically abused for a decade, has been largely undercapacitated and underfunded.

NPA head Shamila Batohi said in July 2019 that the new investigating unit would need about R200m over the next three years.

According to the 2020 budget, the NPA will be allocated R369m in 2020/2021, R412.7m in 2021/2022 and R444.3m in 2022/2023.

The money will be used to increase capacity in the prosecuting authority, operationalise the investigative directorate and rejuvenate the aspirant-prosecutor training programme.

In the period ahead, the NPA is planning to appoint 277 new staff. This increased capacity is intended to enable it to increase the value of recoveries relating to corruption or related offences by the Asset Forfeiture Unit from R1.6bn in 2019/2020 to R1.8bn in 2022/2023; increase the number of people convicted of corruption in the private sector from 57 in 2019/2020 to 166 in 2022/2023 and increase the number of government officials convicted of corruption from 202 in 2019/2020 to 243 in 2022/2023, according to the budget.

The Zondo commission was granted an extension to March 31 2021 to finalise its work, by the high court in Pretoria this week. In the 2019 budget, it was allocated an extra R272.9m; however, this year there is no additional funding.

The directorate for priority crimes investigation, known as the Hawks, will also be allocated R958m to allow it to appoint additional investigators, primarily to address the backlog of corruption cases.

Money has also been set aside for the establishment of five additional specialised commercial crimes courts so that they have a presence in each province. An additional R120.2m has been allocated for this in the medium-term expenditure framework period.

The SIU will be receiving R225m to appoint forensic investigators and operationalise the special tribunal.

The tribunal started sitting in 2019 and was established to fast-track the settlement of civil claims — and the recovery of stolen funds — arising from SIU investigations.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

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