Prosecutors are getting more guilty verdicts, Parliament told
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says it has maintained a conviction rate of 89% of all the cases it prosecuted.
The NPA presented these figures to the Parliament's justice portfolio committee yesterday.
Despite questions being raised about the accuracy of the conviction rate, NPA acting head Nomgcobo Jiba, who presented the prosecuting authority's annual report, stuck to her guns, saying the figures reflected the NPA's work rate.
Debbie Schafer of the DA disputed the accuracy of the figures. But Jiba explained that the method used to reach the figures had been used for many years.
"There are other methods but this is how we've been measuring them, and we have been very transparent with the auditor-general on how we reach our conviction rates," Jiba said.
And while the NPA boasted a high conviction rate overall, it missed out on its target of 87% conviction in high courts, achieving only 84% due to a drop in the number of cases where evidence was accepted by the court, she said.
Jiba said a number of cases that were finalised through alternative dispute resolution methods had increased to over 132,000, exceeding the NPA's target by 1.2%. She said this was a great improvement, and contributed to the finalisation of cases before courts.
"All courts have maintained a positive clearance ratio, disposing of more cases than have been enrolled. There has been a 12.2% reduction in the number of cases withdrawn," Jiba told members of the portfolio committee.
Jiba said 65.1% of the sexual offence cases (6,913) which were finalised during the last financial year included all sexual offences, and not just rape.
But Schafer said considering the number of sexual offences reported to the police in 2011-12, it meant that only 11% of these cases were finalised, and that only 6.9% resulted in a conviction.
She said the only way this could be reversed was to re-establish special sexual offences courts.