Concerns about ‘deficiencies’ in NPA Amendment Act

Henry

“The Amendment Bill on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is like a dog without teeth and does not contain nearly enough measures to tackle the current problems at the NPA.”

This is the view of the civil rights organization AfriForum, which submitted written comments on this bill on Monday.

With the amendment bill, it is intended to, among other things, make the NPA’s investigative directorate against corruption a permanent institution.

The NPA Bill is currently before the National Council of Provinces (NRP).

AfriForum had already pointed out “several obvious shortcomings” about the amendment bill in its written comments even before the National Assembly approved the bill with some amendments on 5 December last year.

Louis Boshoff, campaign officer at AfriForum, says, however, that the amendments did not address the “substantive problems” of the bill.

“In addition to the lack of adequate measures to deal with the NPA’s problems, there are also several other unacceptable aspects of the bill,” he says.

“This includes, among other things, the failure to prescribe parliamentary review which increases the risk of political interference in the NPA.”

Boshoff believes this possibility means that the “impartial administration of justice” is in jeopardy.

AfriForum further argues that the enactment of the bill in its current format is likely to lead to a serious decrease in confidence in the South African criminal justice system.

AfriForum’s comments suggest various solutions for the above aspects. It also makes suggestions regarding the improvement of the NPA’s operational efficiency. The proposals include:

  • Improved parliamentary oversight;
  • strengthening structural and operational efficiency;
  • a holistic approach to the reform of the criminal justice system; and
  • doing away with political interference.

“If the NPA does not function as it should, criminals will not be prosecuted. Point. AfriForum will not simply watch as poor quality legislation is introduced to regulate such an important entity,” says Boshoff.

AfriForum says it is in the meantime expanding its own private prosecution unit further “to ensure that prosecution can continue even if the NPA weakens”.