Cash crisis in NPA
Prosecuting authority’s ability to put criminals behind bars has been called into question.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has run out of money.
And the department of justice has refused to bail out the cash-strapped state prosecutors.
Now the NPA’s ability to put criminals behind bars has been called into question after a court defeat that added R55 million to its wage bill and left the organisation in dire financial straits.
The NPA is implementing strict austerity measures in a desperate bid to “salvage its financial position”.
According to an internal memorandum sent to City Press by the NPA this week, there was “no hope of a rescue plan from the department of justice or from Treasury”.
These measures included freezing non-essential posts and shelving the aspirant prosecutor programme.
Two sources this week told this publication that NPA officials have also been battling to make necessary travel arrangements owing to a shortage of funds.
The aspirant prosecutor programme is the organisation’s programme to recruit and train law graduates to become prosecutors.
But due to the NPA’s financial position, there will be no aspirant prosecutors this year, despite the fact that it had already started conducting interviews.
The memorandum notes that the NPA has been worst hit in the area of compensation of employees, which reflects a projected expenditure of 103.2%, which could translate into overexpenditure of R72 million.
In a presentation to the parliamentary portfolio committee on justice and constitutional development last year, acting NPA head Nomgcobo Jiba warned that her organisation’s “impact on crime (was) likely to be affected by budget constraints”.
What was already a tough financial situation for the NPA was exacerbated in November, when it lost a five-year legal battle with the Public Servants Association (PSA).
The court case relates to the 1999 decision by the department of public service and administration to evaluate and upgrade job posts in all government departments.
The NPA appointed consultants and undertook the evaluation, but decided to phase in the upgrading of positions because of limited funds.
The PSA was unhappy with this approach and lodged a dispute with the bargaining council, which found in their favour.
After a series of court appeals, the NPA was, in November, left with no choice but to pay its employees the amount they would have received had the grading been implemented from April 1 2005.
According to the internal memorandum, this amounts to about R55 million.
The NPA received R2.1 billion for compensation of employees.
The organisation received an unqualified audit, although emphasis was placed on the fact that, had it paid invoices timeously, it would have overspent its budget by nearly R32 million.
There was also irregular expenditure amounting to R11.7 million and the NPA said disciplinary action had been implemented.