Vuyo Mvoko | Prosecute the criminals now

PREMIUM

The Nelson Mandela Bay-located St Albans prison is in the top five of SA’s most notorious jails.
But, as was confirmed this week, it turns out it is also one of at least seven correctional services facilities where top criminals, who are supposed to be inside its walls, are instead outside milking the state to the tune of R1.5bn from doing business with the centres.
Even more perplexing is the fact the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) thoroughly investigated the bandits’ elaborate scheme and came to a conclusion that they be prosecuted.
And that was – wait for it – in 2009.
The SIU gave its recommendations to the president of the republic, the ministry and department of correctional services, as well as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). And what did they do? Nothing!
I guess that’s why former president Jacob Zuma famously said he knew the people who were committing crimes – except he didn’t add, “I protected them” or “I’m one of them”.
Hence, many are arguing the Nkandla mafia ringleader should be charged with treason for sabotaging our country the way he did.
But Zuma is gone.
His successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, and finance minister Tito Mboweni are free to remind us over and over again that the bad state we are in is because of “nine wasted years” under the former head of state.
That, however, doesn’t take us forward.
What’s going to take SA forward is real, focussed and speedy action that goes beyond words and conviction.
And if there are obstacles – such as the “push-back” Ramaphosa spoke about this week when addressing a Business Unity SA gathering – can we please move beyond complaining about it and deal decisively with it now?
A year into his presidency, it cannot be that Ramaphosa’s only success is confined to giving us hope and restoring our confidence.
If we set the bar that low, then we may as well accept now that we are in for another “nine wasted years” before the current leader is “recalled” and another one takes over before the end of his term, as has become ANC tradition now.
No, Mr President, we don’t have to wait for the state capture commission to finish before you can take some decisions.
No, we don’t have the luxury of listening to academics and analysts pontificating about “processes” that must be followed first or some “constitutional imperatives” either – as if we are asking our elected public representatives, leaders of key public institution and the rest of the civil service, to break the law. Ramaphosa must strike, given his party’s warring factions, etc.
It’s not like Ramaphosa didn’t know that he wanted to succeed Zuma one day.
And if his was to do what’s good for SA, and not just to be counted among a select group of people who would have once been called presidents, he would have from the start come up with a plan of how he intended to run the country and solve the mountain of problems he was in fact very privy to as deputy president.
Taking charge and moving with speed is not the same as flouting laws, disobeying the constitution or running roughshod over the interests of others.
It’s getting people to do their jobs.
There’s a reason we have a minister, who serves in Ramaphosa’s executive, and is in charge of justice and correctional services.
Mike Masutha must take responsibility for what is going on within his area of work.
There is a reason we have a parliament, with its focussed committees, whose job it is to hold the executive accountable.
And if anyone, including members of the executive and the legislature, overstep the mark in their exercise of their responsibilities, the judiciary is there to interpret the law and our constitutional provisions.
What’s with this lack of urgency about getting out of the mess we are in?
Why do we need endless and pointless academic debates to resolve simple things?
Why is ANC “unity” a precondition to the proper running of the country as stipulated in the constitution?
The excuses must stop. Why shouldn’t Bosasa stop doing business with correctional services – when there’s a 10-year-old recommendation that followed a thorough SIU investigation?
This should be in the in tray of new NPA head Shamila Batohi, as her first order of business when she arrives this morning to start her job.
Thankfully, there’ll be neither a “snake” nor a “snail” to try to block her.
The inquiry into their fitness to hold office is keeping Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi sufficiently busy.
The point is, if Ramaphosa’s cabinet is with him in the clean-up, they should be first on the crime and get their officials to the jobs they are employed to do.
The parliamentarians who giggled and hurled insults at anyone who dared to oppose Zuma during those “nine wasted years” must show us they have changed.
Or we may as well release the criminals that are incarcerated at St Albans, Kgosi Mampuru, Pollsmoor, Modderbee and other prisons around the country.
Surely they, too, would like to be out there making billions like the Bosasa criminals.
It can’t be that the only reason they are in jail is because they never stuffed Louis Vuitton bags with money for politicians, or bought houses and cars for officials...

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