Africa-Press – South-Africa. A bill which National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi deems essential to bring state capturers to book has started its journey through the parliamentary process.
The public has now been asked to comment on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Amendment Bill.
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services is processing the bill.
Its chairperson, ANC MP Bulelani Magwanishe, said in a statement the purpose of the bill was, among others, to amend the NPA Act, 1998.
This is to provide for the establishment of the Investigating Directorate against Corruption (IDAC) and outline its powers and functions to provide for the appointment of investigators.
The bill aims:
Magwanishe said the bill sought to amend the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act, 2002, to make provision for applications for directions in terms of that act by the IDAC head.
On Thursday, Batohi told a gathering on anti-corruption measures that much of what the NPA required to excel in terms of state capture cases depends on the NPA Amendment Bill.
She said it would allow for the permanent recruitment of investigators and analysts with specialised skills to support the work of “our prosecutors and allow the ID to operate more independently and effectively in the criminal justice system value chain”.
“The establishment of the IDAC is the most important next step forward that must be taken while the NACAC undertakes its work into South Africa’s anti-corruption architecture.”
The bill has not been met with universal acclaim.
When it was introduced to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services earlier this month, DA MP and former prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach and ACDP MP Steve Swart expressed their concerns with the bill, saying IDAC would have the same fate as the Scorpions as soon as it starts investigating politicians.
They want stronger measures to ensure a corruption-busting agency’s independence, with Breytenbach proposing a Chapter 9 institution for this purpose.
“South Africans are being misled, and deliberately misled,” said Breytenbach.
Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery said they were not setting up a new institution but “beefing up what is already there with the Investigating Directorate, precisely to address some of the problems [Breytenbach] had raised”.
“And this is a stop-gap measure, so I would hope that members would, for the good of the country, agree with this amendment bill, while the anti-corruption council do their work.”
He agreed longer-term discussions on corruption-busting was needed.
“But right now, we need this bill.”
Submissions on the bill must reach the committee by 6 October, with an indication if a person would like to make a verbal presentation.