The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has raised concern about the impact budget cuts will have on its work going forward. It says under-resourcing will hamper its ability to combat corruption, gender-based violence and organised crime.
Briefing parliament’s Justice and Correctional Services Committee, Acting Head of Finance Matshidiso Morakile said the current increase to the NPA budget, at 1.5% is already below the current inflation rate.
She, therefore, urged members to assist the NPA in ensuring that the proposed budget cuts are not implemented.
“It is for this reason that the National Treasury is urged to review their position to reduce the NPA budget and to reconsider current position in relation to outer years. As it is, currently, the NPA can afford to absorb a budget baseline reduction in the current financial year. However, the proposed cuts in respect of outer MTEF years will cripple its ability to deliver on its mandate.”
Earlier this year, the NPA had to defend itself for recieving money from Steinhoff. It confirmed that it had received money from Steinhoff to assist with a forensic probe into the company’s auditing scandal, but insisted there was no conflict of interest. Three top Steinhoff executives had just recently been formally charged in Germany with balance sheet fraud, which allegedly took place in 2015.
The Steinhoff scandal wiped out billions of rands from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
However, no arrests have been made yet in a case known as the biggest accounting fraud in corporate South Africa.
NPA Spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, at the time, said Steinhoff was also a victim that wants to see justice served.
“People need to understand that first of all, that this is a new board that instituted the investigation against directors that have left. So, if you understand this, the people involved in those activities are gone. The new board has also become complainants. They’ve given to the police and laid a criminal charge. They are paying for that. There is no money flowing into the government.
NPA’s current budget cuts come a day after the Public Service Accountability Monitor’s Zuki Kota said the resourcing of institutions like the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and Statistics SA that are addressing public finance management failures should have been prioritised in the mid-term budget.
Kota says it was unreasonable that public institutions such as Sars and Stats South Africa saw budget reductions of over 20% in the February budget.
Kota says the greatest concern is that more public funds will be lost to corruption.
“What we see now is important institutions like the Special Investigating Unit – as you know, they were investigating massive PPE corruption which is really important because it has a bottom-line effect on social spending – the SIUs own budget was cut and we noted that the SIU acknowledged earlier in the year that the current funding for their work and their investigations is not sustainable,” says Kota.