The latest figures reported on our prosecuting authority's successes may leave South Africans with something worth celebrating, amidst frequent cries of fraud and corruption.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Willie Hofmeyr:
Overall, our conviction rate is up, being some of the highest conviction rates we’ve achieved yet in the NPA. In the District Courts – which is where about 95% of the cases happen – it (the conviction rate) was about 94%. In the Regional Courts – where the very serious cases happen – it’s 76%. In the High Courts – where a few of the very big cases – it was remarkable, at 89%.
Hofmeyr noted challenges experienced in resolving cases involving those with access to tremendous resources:
We must acknowledge that in very big, complex commercial crime cases, there is a very big challenge. It’s a challenge that exists throughout the world, not just in South Africa, especially when you’re dealing with people who have huge amounts of money and can fight endlessly. In the Oscar Pistorius case for example, we’ve shown that we can match ‘fire with fire’ in most cases. There’s still an Appeal Court and we’re fairly confident that we will succeed in Appeal Court. (In the case of) Tatane – I think there were a range of rather unfortunate circumstances around that case that was less the NPA’s fault to deal with challenges in the investigation.
Regarding the looming question of pursuing an appeal in the Oscar Pistorius case, Hofmeyr says it is rather early to communicate the course to take:
I think it’s premature for us to make that decision. Normally after a case is completed, we will look at it and analyse it. The National Director has indicated that there would be a full discussion with the prosecution team and we will decide whether to appeal or not. It’s important to remember that in criminal cases, we can only appeal on legal issues, we cannot appeal on factual findings that the judge has made. It will be important for us to look carefully at the case.
Read the NPA's document highlighting performance in full here.