Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Ronald Lamola says government remains firmly committed to rooting out and fighting crime, fraud and corruption in the country.

The Minister was speaking at the Budget Vote of the department in Parliament on Tuesday.

Lamola said a significant portion of the department’s budget is going towards entities at the coal face of fighting corruption, crime and fraud in order to “to ensure its success”.

“To combat crime, fraud and corruption, the National Prosecution Authority’s overall allocation for 2023/24 amounts to R5.4 billion. This amount includes the additional grant of R915 million made by government to strengthen our efforts in fighting crime and corruption.

“The National Prosecution Authority Investigative Directorate (NPA ID) is allocated a portion of R336 million out of the overall allocation,” he said.

Lamola praised the NPA and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) for enforcing “accountability for crime and maladministration”.

“The NPA effectively deals with over 850 000 criminal cases yearly, with over 600 000 in court dockets. The progress made by the NPA is evident in the numbers. It is encouraging to see that they are growing from strength to strength. Although there have been some setbacks, they are not insurmountable, and plans are in place to address them.

“Holding individuals accountable for their actions is essential. The increase in signed proclamations and civil action instituted in the High Courts and the Special Tribunal is a positive sign. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is also doing a great job investigating allegations of corruption and maladministration in government departments, municipalities, and State-owned entities,” Lamola said.

Protecting whistle-blowers

The Minister said in order to further secure the mission of combating corruption, government is proposing further measures – through new policies and legislative amendments – to protect whistle-blowers.

“Ensuring the safety and protection of whistle-blowers is crucial to serving justice. Without their cooperation, obtaining convictions can prove challenging. Therefore, it is imperative to implement strong measures to safeguard them.

“Extensive research and evaluation of the protected disclosures and witness protection legislation in South Africa has uncovered gaps and shortcomings in the current system.

“The department conducted a comparative analysis with other jurisdictions to ensure adequate and effective whistle-blower protection. According to our research, there are better ways to promote organisational transparency and accountability than incentivising whistle-blowers,” he said.

Lamola said the research paper will be released for public comment in June.

“The research paper includes recommendations such as providing legal assistance to whistle-blowers, enhancing internal policy oversight, and creating a fund for those experiencing retaliations with financial implications,” he said.

Greylisting

Turning to financial crimes and South Africa’s greylisting by the international anti-money laundering group FATF, Lamola said government has introduced laws geared towards enhancing the “capacity to prosecute financial crimes”.

“The Regulation of Trusts Bill seeks to regulate the establishment of trusts and provide for legislative measures on par with the current socio-economic, jurisprudential, and practical landscapes in which trusts are created and operated.

“Additionally, the SIU and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research are collaborating to enhance the use of technology to fight the scourge of corruption and maladministration in the country.

“The department is committed to developing partnerships in the public service, the private sector, professional bodies, media, and international networking to mobilise all sectors to engage in the fight against corruption.” – SAnews.gov.za

Source: South African Government News Agency

News Reporter