Protesters outside the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture in Parktown. Picture: ALON SKUY
Protesters outside the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture in Parktown. Picture: ALON SKUY

Robert Appelbaum’s call for an amnesty proposal for perpetrators of state capture (Features, March 12-18, and Opinion, March 19-25) makes for an important debate. Its basic premise — that prosecutions will flounder because, according to Appelbaum, the "lawyered rich" will outmanoeuvre the overstretched state prosecutorial capacity — is, unfortunately, supported by many high-profile prosecutions in SA. These have progressed no further than the incubation stage after many years, and others have taken a decade or more to conclude.

But there is another alternative. The state should reintroduce the system that was employed with great success decades ago, when it outsourced prosecutions for complex commercial crimes to leading counsel in private practice. Some of the notable commercial criminal cases that found their way into our law reports — and which resulted in convictions — bear fruitful testament to that approach. Moreover, faced with such formidable prosecutions, perpetrators may be persuaded to come clean very smartly and seek reduced prison sentences by way of plea bargains, as happens regularly in the US. It would then become unnecessary to introduce any proposed amnesty, and avoid the moral criticism that crime really does pay.

Oshy Tugendhaft
Attorney, Sandton

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