RSA Minister of Justice gives insights into developments surrounding new agency
By Nicola Taljaard
On 13 October 2022, South African Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola, provided a brief update on the developing discussion in relation to the establishment of a multidisciplinary agency dedicated to fighting corruption. The talks among the Department of Justice and the Republic’s Presidency are timely in light of the ongoing fight against corruption, which has attracted international scrutiny, especially following the release of the so-called “State Capture” reports.
Minister Lamola’s announcement provides a much-anticipated political overview of the work which has been done by the Justice and Correctional Service Committee within the Justice Department, as it pushes to house the envisioned anti-corruption agency within the National Prosecution Authority (“NPA”).
Despite pushback from various civil society organisations, which argue that the agency should be formed as an independent Chapter 9 institution, Minister Lamola argues that, for the sake of moving expeditiously, the Justice and Correctional Services Committee should be used to house the agency immediately.
In addition, he argues that the powers of the agency should be legislatively legitimized by entrenching the entity’s powers in the NPA Act. This approach would avoid, at least for now, having to go through the lengthy and laborious process of forming a Chapter 9 institution through cabinet and public consultations.
While much remains to be done in setting up the agency, the progress made by the Department of Justice and its associates in recent months should not go unnoticed. One of the biggest corruption matters in South African history, the so-called Steinhoff saga, was recently completed, and approximately 380 other fraud and corruption cases instituted by the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit have led to a majority of convictions by the end of the last South African financial year.