Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2004-06-18 Reporter: Wyndham Hartley

Ngcuka Hails Prosecutors' Successes



Business Day

Date 2004-06-18


Wyndham Hartley

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Cape Town - A confident national public prosecutions director Bulelani Ngcuka proclaimed the work of his department a huge success yesterday, as a special committee deliberated on the public protector's finding that he had violated Deputy President Jacob Zuma's constitutional rights.

Following questions about the department's performance in view of greater access to resources than the South African Police Service, Ngcuka told Parliament's justice committee that the National Prosecuting Authority "has continued to make the people of our country proud this, despite the many challenges we had to face during 2003-04".

He said the authority had been able to achieve high conviction rates, improved court hours and had dealt effectively with huge case backlogs. "Our national conviction rate stands at 86% in the district courts, 68% in the regional courts and 87% in the high courts," he said.

As Ngcuka spoke, a special committee, the Mushwana committee, continued its deliberations on the findings of public protector Lawrence Mushwana that Zuma's dignity had been violated by Ngcuka's announcement that he had a prima facie case of corruption against Zuma but would not prosecute.

The Mushwana committee has the task of deciding on accountability in the matter. At issue is the contention that individuals complain to the public protector to try and avert investigation by the prosecuting authority.

The justice committee confined itself to the discussion of budget matters declining to entertain questions about the Mushwana-Ngcuka matter.

However, Democratic Alliance MP Sheila Camerer asked whether the money spent on an investigation could be considered a waste if in the end no prosecution resulted.

Ngcuka said a failure to prosecute did not necessarily mean that the investigation was a waste of money. He said justice was an expensive business, and "one has to look at the cost to our democracy if such investigations are not undertaken". The criteria was not whether a conviction resulted.

With acknowledgements to Wyndham Hartley and the Business Day.