South Africa

Justice minister Ronald Lamola defends NPA's 'slow pace' in charging Markus Jooste

Justice & correctional services minister Ronald Lamola has come to the defence of the National Prosecuting Authority over its seemingly slow pace in charging Markus Jooste and people involved in the Steinhoff corruption case.

Addressing the National Assembly during a question-and-answer session on Wednesday, Lamola said the NPA was treating the matter as a priority but the nature of the investigation meant it took longer to complete. He was responding to EFF MP Yoliswa Yako who had implied that the NPA was dragging its feet in charging Jooste and his accomplices because they were white.

“Steinhoff is the biggest corporate corruption, fraud and money laundering in the history of SA. The [Public Investment Corporation] lost R28bn of workers' pensions. You have known of the criminal acts of Markus Jooste of Steinhoff in 2017, four years later the [National Prosecuting Authority] has not made a single arrest.

“[VBS Mutual Bank Bank] arrests were made very fast and people have appeared in court and some have even confessed and that investigation was not considered to be complex. Because Markus Jooste and Steihoff is a white-owned company, no-one has been arrested and the NPA is moving at a snail's pace. Is the NPA protecting white criminals and Markus Jooste and the people of Steinhoff?” asked Yako.

But Lamola said the NPA was dealing with the matter without fear, prejudice or favour.

“It is also dealing with it without looking at the colour of any person who is involved as per the mandate of the NPA. And they are prioritising the matter, as I have said, that it is being handled in a manner that all matters go through.

“With regards to the years, these kind of investigations take time, we must not come here and lie that these kind of investigations can be done within a day,” said Lamola.

He said even the VBS Mutual Bank Bank case, a scandal which implicated the EFF through R16m paid to Brian Shivambu, brother to party deputy president Floyd Shivambu, had also taken time to investigate.

“The case of James Arthur Brown, we talk of the Fidentia scandal, that took about six years to be completed in terms of investigations but in the end justice was done. Even the Trifecta case took about seven years to complete the investigations but at the end justice was done.

“Also in this matter, justice is going to prevail. There is no-one who is protecting white or black criminals. The NPA and the Hawks are working together to ensure that the investigation is done in a thorough manner and that by the time they take a decision it is informed by facts and is also informed by the law. It is not informed by the colour, or the orientation or political views of any individuals.”

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