EDITORIAL | The net of justice is tightening

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Since South Africa’s new national director of public prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, took up her post in February, there have been calls for her to make high-profile arrests, particularly in regard to long-standing allegations of state capture and corruption.However, these were always premature as, though the chattering classes may think a public accusation should be rapidly followed by a jail term, justice is rarely that simple.In January, many South Africans were stunned to learn that the much-publicised arrests of Agrizzi and Co were not in fact for bombshells dropped at the Zondo Commission, but for alleged crimes at Bosasa dating back 10 years.Last week, however, Batohi signed an authorisation allowing prosecutors to share information with the Zondo Commission. This, along with other initiatives, in effect means that those implicated in state capture could be prosecuted before the commission ends. The DPP will be able to fast-track cases against those implicated.We congratulate Batohi for assembling some of the country’s sharpest legal minds (it is significant that two of the prosecutors called on by the DPP were in line for her job in 2018). As a former senior legal adviser to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Batohi is eminently qualified to guide this team in its prosecutorial duties.It is now clear that she herself has faced a challenging task over the past month or so to marshal her staff in the direction she wants them to go.She has said efforts to change things at the NPA have not moved as fast as she wanted them to, but at least the public can see now that there is movement.Many criminals – especially those in positions of influence – will rarely, if ever, answer for their deeds.However, with the new NPA team in place, we can rest assured that several are now more likely to face their day in court – sooner rather than later.The net of justice is tightening.

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