Responding to violent and organised crime
Dealing with corruption is important, but it’s not the NPA’s only priority. Our success rate when it comes to cases involving violence against women over the past year is particularly significant:
- Our Sexual Offences and Community Affairs (SOCA) Unit achieved a 94.3% conviction rate in femicide prosecutions, the same as last year.
- The unit also achieved a 93.8% conviction rate in intimate partner femicide prosecutions.
Overall, across all areas of the NPA’s work, there has also been a marked increase in the number of cases finalised.
We have also worked to ensure sustainability of this progress. Initiatives include:
- A Gender-Based Violent Crimes training module and strategic plan has been developed.
- A National Organised Crime strategy has been approved after extensive consultation.
- A list of priority organised crime cases has been developed.
- Five additional Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) have been established, bringing the total to 60.
- Databases have been developed of femicide, child murder and crimes affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersexed (LGBTQI+) people. The (SOCA) unit is monitoring case progress, finalised prosecutions and the conviction rate.
- A DNA prioritisation task team has been established and a DNA protocol developed to ensure the acceleration of DNA-related matters on the court roll.
However, it must be borne in mind that prosecutions, notwithstanding the NPA’s best efforts which we will not waver on, will not solve the scourge of SGBV in this country. A whole of government approach, and partnerships with the private sector, is critical.
We have made significant progress in building a strategically aligned and capacitated NPA, and there is no doubt that our people are our strongest asset.
We have filled a total of 1,717 vacant posts, including the recruitment of more than 1,000 new staff members, and increased our presence outside the major centres.
All Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) posts and several Special Directors of Public Prosecutions (SDPP) posts have been filled with permanent appointments. In the last year, nine women were appointed into top leadership positions: four DPPs, two SDPPs, the new Investigating Director and two Chief Directors – Strategy and Finance. The NPA is proud to be led by so many experienced, skilled and dynamic women.
The gender profile of the NPA is now 54% female, which represents a 0.8% increase from the previous year. Women constitute 65% of key management positions, far exceeding the prescribed 50% female representation.
So where to from here?
In terms of the future, the obvious answer is to continue building on what we have achieved over the past three years. And to further ramp up our efforts to bring perpetrators of state capture corruption to justice.
Our advocacy has already resulted in the NPA being better resourced, but additional funding will be required over the next three years if we are to maintain our grip on criminal activity. We are grateful to the ongoing support from the minister of justice and correctional services who keeps exploring bold and innovative ways to secure additional resources for the NPA.
Support from the private sector has been encouraging and is necessary to address the complex challenges we will face over the coming years. The NPA has made good progress in setting up mechanisms to ensure that the NPA’s independence is not compromised in the process.
Many of our prosecutors work in challenging and hostile environments with traumatised victims of crime. Burdened by the daily routines and demands of our work, it is easy to forget that the mission of the NPA is both noble and grand – to ensure justice for society’s most vulnerable, combat crime and impunity, strengthen crime-ridden communities, and reverse years of state capture to restore public confidence. We thank all our prosecutors and staff for their ongoing commitment to this noble mission.
Through re-sharpening our focus and priorities, we are confident that the NPA will deliver on the expectations of all South Africans – and that the final verdict, when it comes to how the NPA has fared in this time of national crisis, will be a positive one. We are on track to become the lawyers for the people of SA once again. A trusted NPA that is loved by the people, and rightfully feared by criminals.
The next few months will be a defining time for the NPA, and the rule of law in SA.
* Adv Du Plessis is deputy national director of public prosecutions