What the ex­perts say...

Finweek English Edition - - Cover Story -

ROBERT CAMERON-EL­LIS says there are in­stances where ded­i­cated white-col­lar crime courts have helped, but it’s not enough. He says stricter reg­u­la­tions – such as the Pre­ven­tion of Or­gan­ised Crime Act, as­set for­fei­ture leg­is­la­tion, the Pro­tected Dis­clo­sure Act, the Pre­ven­tion of Cor­rupt Ac­tiv­i­ties Act and FICA – are def­i­nitely a step up, but you still need the skill and ded­i­ca­tion to en­force leg­is­la­tion.

“Though com­mer­cial pros­e­cu­tors have im­proved in skill over the past 10 years there’s a con­tin­u­ous drain on those skilled re­sources and we have to keep on re­plen­ish­ing them.”

Steven Pow­ell says it’s a pity the Scor­pi­ons were abol­ished. “They had such a high strike rate. The prob­lem with the Hawks is that SA’s pros­e­cu­tion au­thor­i­ties aren’t in­volved in the process, as with the Scor­pi­ons, so we’ve taken a step back.”

An­other wor­ry­ing is­sue for Pow­ell is that Na­tional Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions Menzi Sime­lane plans to make SA’s As­set For­fei­ture Unit (AFU), led by Wil­lie Hofmeyr, and three other spe­cialised units an­swer di­rectly to pro­vin­cial di­rec­tors of pros­e­cu­tion, who in turn re­port to Sime­lane. Hofmeyr was also given an ul­ti­ma­tum to choose be­tween his twin posts as head of both the AFU and the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions Unit (SUI).

Com­men­ta­tors have said Sime­lane’s plans sought to weaken the spe­cialised units and to un­der­mine their in­de­pen­dence.

Philip Zwart says there’s a great ten­dency for pros­e­cu­tors to plea bar­gain com­mer­cial crimes and too many peo­ple are al­lowed to only pay a fine and walk away. “Au­thor­i­ties need to look at that.”

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