Complaints of alleged racism, nepotism and corruption at the NPA, Bantu Holomisa writes to Shamila Batohi
Advocate Shamila Batohi
National Director of Public Prosecutions
Private Bag X752
Dear Advocate Batohi
Being sent from pillar to post: serious staff frustrations within the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, and Western Cape offices in particular
1. I was recently approached by a group of concerned prosecutors who work mainly in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape offices of the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa (NPA), though I understand the frustrations they brought to my attention prevail in other provinces. They have petitioned my assistance in their plight to be heard as their frustrations are festering into resentment and anger.
2. I read with interest your comments during your “listening tour/staff engagement” at the start of this year and in particular the results of a staff survey where you listed, lack of promotion, no career growth, high staff vacancies, low staff morale, and budgetary constraints as some of the complaints that staff had registered. The complaints now on my desk echo this list to a great extent.
3. From my reading of the group of concerned prosecutors’ complaints, the aforementioned matters are particularly true for prosecutors who work in rural South Africa and who depend on greater resources to get about and do their jobs.
4. However, the group of concerned prosecutors have additional complaints to those already mentioned and have made allegations of nepotism and racism. The persistence of claims of racism in the NPA over the years is worrying and clearly the solution has not yet been found.
5. I have been made to understand that the NPA has appointed a person to investigate the allegations of racism and nepotism within the organisation, but that this investigator is either too busy to attend to new complaints and/or refuses to accept such. I am interested to know what this investigator’s scope of operation is and whether it is true that some complaints are not being accepted and/or attended to and if so, why.
6. Amongst the worst of the claims made by the group of concerned prosecutors are that there are several people in senior positions within the NPA’s provincial structures who have been tainted by allegations of corruption and, whilst complaints have been lodged against them, nothing has seemingly been done to address those complaints.
7. I also refer you to your memo dated 13 December 2019, but signed on 6 January 2020, wherein the group of concerned prosecutors’ appeals for intervention was shot down, as their union had not yet been recognised by the Public Sector Coordinating Bargaining Council to represent employees in the public service. Even though this might be technically and legally correct, I find it disconcerting that you would rely on a pure technicality to, for all intents and purposes, seemingly ignore what might be serious problems within your organisation.
8. I believe what frustrates this group of concerned prosecutors the most is their feeling that their emails and letters to you, as well as meetings with you, have been for naught. They feel that they have not been properly heard nor have any of their complaints been addressed, for whatever reason, and that they are now being victimised by NPA middle management for speaking out.
9. I have also noted that your office had, in the media in late January 2020, indicated that you would be looking into the concerned prosecutors’ complaints, but judging from their contact with me, you have not yet done so.
10. I would be grateful if you would take me into your confidence regarding your views on the matters I have raised above, the plans you have made and actions you have taken to address the complaints on your desk and the progress, if any, that you have made thus far.
11. I hope to hear from you soon.
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP