NPA ‘doesn’t just withdraw charges’
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) does not withdraw charges against people without reason, acting head Nomgcobo Jiba has said.
“We do not merely withdraw charges against accused people … there is vigorous consultation and processes to be followed,” Jiba said in Pretoria today at an Institute for Security Studies seminar.
“We must take care when deciding to prosecute,” she said.
She was responding to a Sunday Times report over the weekend regarding the dropping of corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma in 2009.
She said she was not trying to defend the decisions made by former national directors of public prosecutions (NDPP).
However, there were policies in place which had to be followed.
“There will always be some form of unhappiness from the other side [when decisions are made].”
The NPA’s decision to drop the charges – taken by then acting NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe – came a month before he was elected president.
The national weekly Sunday Times reported that the country’s top prosecutors at the NPA were overwhelmingly in favour of pressing ahead with the corruption case against Zuma.
They also dismissed the so-called “spy tapes” as irrelevant just days before the charges were dropped.
This was revealed in more than 300 pages of internal e-mails, memos and meetings, the paper reported.
In March, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the NPA to hand over a record of all documents, recordings, materials and evidence that led to criminal charges against Zuma being withdrawn.
The tapes were yet to materialise.
Jiba said just because there was prima facie case did not mean there would be prosecution.
She used the example of a woman who had heard a noise at her window, thought someone was breaking in and shot the person, who turned out to be her husband.
“How do you prosecute something like that?” Jiba asked.
“There are instances were there is a prima facie case but you can’t prosecute.”
Jiba admitted there were challenges facing the NPA, but efforts were being made to improve things.
“We are not sitting around doing nothing. We acknowledge the criticism in the way we measure our performance,” she said.
The NPA measured its performance by the number of convictions.
“We have yet to find a perfect system.”