WHY THE LAYING OF CRIMINAL COMPLAINTS SHOULD NEVER BE VIEWED AS A FUTILE EXERCISE.
In today’s South Africa of repeated headlines featuring the brazenly corrupt who defiantly operate with impunity, it’s easy to understand why many people no longer get excited when they hear about “criminal complaints filed” or “charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering laid…” They’ve heard it far more times than they’ve received news of ongoing investigations or successful prosecutions. The wheels of justice appear to be jammed when it comes to holding the corrupt and captured to account for their transgressions, or so it would seem.
Thus the question we are repeatedly asked at OUTA: why do we bother at all with laying these charges with the law enforcement authorities, knowing they will in all likelihood not act on them.
While civil society has a moral and ethical duty to report crimes when discovered, the deeper answer and reasons behind OUTA’s multifaceted actions lies in our aim to ensure the authorities are given no room to ignore the glaring evidence of state capture, which gives rise to massive looting and the compromising of our state institutions that threaten the very existence of our democracy.
In so doing, we demonstrate an overwhelming faith in the future of South Africa. One that refuses to accept that today’s architects and purveyors of state capture will remain in control of the nation’s purse strings in perpetuity. We sincerely believe that in the not too distant future, new leadership will ascend to power and the current lid placed on the enforcement agencies will be lifted. This in turn will enable tomorrow’s wheels of justice to be well oiled as it metes out the corrective action against today’s perpetrators of unjust conduct. Deserved incarceration, along with the recovery of stolen goods and funds will surely follow.
We have a team of highly professional investigators, researchers, lawyers and advocates who build cases. Similar to the Hawks and the NPA, we investigate the allegations and gather the evidence which enable us to build solid cases. Only after we have built the case, do we lay complaints with the relevant authorities knowing that these cases carry weight in merit. We always ensure that we keep back up copies of these cases in case they get lost. Our team regularly follows up with the relevant authorities, keeping track of the investigations and prosecutions.
Our case files and laying criminal charges has numerous other benefits and avenues of action that stem from this work, some of which are:-
- Help to obtain mandamus rulings (a court order to force the authorities to do their jobs).
- They enable the possibility of Anton Piller search warrants (private search and seizure orders).
- Then there is the private asset freezing orders locally and abroad (OUTA recently launched an interim interdict to freeze R1.75 billion in the Gupta-owned Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines rehabilitation trust fund accounts)
- Private prosecutions. This is the last resort, but OUTA is geared to do private prosecutions.
- Statutory reporting of suspected crimes can also be registered in foreign territories since most corruption, tax evasion and money laundering crimes are considered extra-territorial in execution. This means that other countries’ law enforcement agencies may well be able to act when our own choose not to.
- From our charges, cases are raised against the legal practitioners, accountants and auditors who may have aided and abetted these crimes, both locally and overseas.
- Our cases also assist oversight bodies such as CIPC, the SA Institute for Chartered Accountants and others to bar perpetrators from future director appointments or practicing as chartered accountants and auditors.
The cases that OUTA and others are filing today, will not fade or die. Once registered, they are on record and in the system. The current regime may wish to ignore, divert and interfere with the wheels of justice today, but the tide will eventually turn. It always does. Bad guys never win in the long run. When the tide turns, the rule of law will come into play. And when it does, civil society does not want to find itself frantically bringing dozens of cases against the captured and corrupt leadership previously in power – a few months or years from now. Under such circumstances the guilty parties would no doubt claim to be victims of a witch-hunt.
Furthermore, laying multiple complaints many months or years after the event tends to result in sloppy and incomplete work, beset with problems of whistleblowers and witnesses who have moved on and pertinent information or records lost in the passage of time.
It is extremely unfortunate that South Africa will be paying for state capture looting for years and generations to come. The arms deal loans, signed in 1999, will be finally paid off only in 2020. Deals being signed now within state-owned entities like Eskom and Prasa will haunt us for decades.
Doing nothing to halt the looting and state plunder is becoming the norm to South Africans. OUTA cannot and will not stand by and watch this beautiful country, so hard fought for, deteriorate at the hands of criminals.
We will carry on fighting corruption and maladministration until South Africa is again the prosperous country all South Africans deserve.