The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, must critically assess the conduct of the prosecutors involved in the failure of the first state capture trial.
If it is found that they are guilty of gross negligence, they must be duly charged and prosecuted.
The prosecutors could not even succeed in meeting the minimum requirements set for the criminal liability of the accused in court.
During the trial, where eight accused faced charges of corruption related to the notorious Vrede dairy project, witnesses for the state could not even provide circumstantial evidence. It all points to poor detective work.
Among the accused was the former head of the Department of Agriculture in the Free State.
Just after opening statements, before any of the accused had provided any evidence themselves or called witnesses, seven of them had requested the acting judge, Nompumelelo Gusha, to withdraw all charges against them.
Judge Gusha identified serious flaws relating to each witness for the state after studying the case.
None of the witnesses were able to provide evidence as to the accuracy of any of the documents before the court.
The original documents, on which their testimony relied, were not available to the court, and some of the supporting documents did not correspond with the specific evidence that the witnesses wanted to present.
In the end, the Judge found that the state’s case was “stillborn” because the state attempted to prove intent, but failed to provide any substantiation.
There is no doubt that the state’s own witnesses caused the trial to fail.
The state’s negligence resulted in the accused, who had been charged with misappropriating R25 million in state funds, getting off scot-free.
If the state wants to achieve any success in future state capture trials, investigative officers must do their job thoroughly.
In addition to that, competent and experienced prosecutors must handle the case and present it to the court.
The FF Plus will keep an eye on what Minister Lamola does to address the matter, and will keep insisting that the individuals guilty of ineptitude must be held accountable.
Read the original article in Afrikaans by Jaco Mulder on FF Plus