South Africa | Steinhoff's Markus Jooste not arrested 'because he's white' - EFF continues attack on NPA

EFF members in parliament.

EFF members in parliament.

The EFF, whose leaders have been charged with several crimes, continued its attack on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Parliament, saying that the NPA has not prosecuted disgraced former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste because he is white and Steinhoff, because the company is white-owned.

Ministers from the security cluster answered questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi - who, with party leader Julius Malema, is charged with assault - asked Justice Minister Ronald Lamola for the reasons of the NPA's refusal or the delay in charging Jooste for insider trading, fraud and corporate corruption relating to his dealings with Steinhoff.

READ | EFF's Paulsen, DA's Van Damme kicked out of the National Assembly

Lamola said the NPA had not made a decision not to prosecute and that the NPA "is serious about dealing with white collar crime, including private sector corruption and fraud committed by companies and private persons".

"The investigation on the matter in question has been ongoing since early 2018. It is a highly complex investigation involving a forensic investigation into thousands of foreign and local transactions, requiring various applications for Mutual Legal Assistance requests relating to different bank accounts in various countries and jurisdictions to be made," Lamola said.

Former chief executive of Steinhoff, Markus Jooste.

He said the Financial Sector Conduct Authority's (FSCA) investigation into allegations of insider trading was recently finalised and the case docket was registered by the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI).

"A team of prosecutors is guiding such investigation, and the team of investigators has been enhanced, in line with the decision to prioritise the matter."

He said once the investigations were finalised, the suspects would be charged with all the charges the state intended to bring against them in one trial.

FACT CHECK | Expropriations Bill: Will the state be able to seize everything you own? 

EFF MP Yoliswa Yako asked the follow-up question in the absent Ndlozi's stead. She said Steinhoff was the biggest corporate corruption in the history of South Africa, and this had been known for four years, yet there had been no arrests, while in the case of the VBS bank heist, arrests were made "very fast".

She said:

"Just because Markus Jooste is white and Steinhoff is a white-owned company, no arrests have been made."

Lamola said the NPA was doing its work without fear or favour, and without looking at a person's race.

He cited the example of the case against J Arthur Brown, which took six years.

"But in the end, justice was done," he said.

"Also, in this matter, justice is going to prevail."

Two weeks ago, in the debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address, Malema, who, apart from the assault charge, has also been charged with discharging a firearm, said: "It is evident that the only thing the current NDPP [National Director of Public Prosecutions] was appointed for, was to withdraw criminal charges against the rogue unit, which continues to control the government and media, and to tell lies about the president's opponents and to project him as a demi-god."

Other senior EFF leaders, Floyd Shivambu and Marshall Dlamini, had also been charged for separate assault cases. Malema and Shivambu were also alleged to have benefited from the looting of VBS - a claim they denied. 

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