South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will charge a high-profile individual next month as part of its investigation into the plunder of state funds, according to the head of the body’s investigating directorate.
The authority is close to arresting people involved in the Estina dairy scandal, Hermione Cronje said in an interview with the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times newspaper.
The NPA is scrutinising evidence to ensure it can sustain a case, she said.
“That is the work that needs to come to fruition in the next month,” she told the paper.
“We are unbelievably close” to making arrests, Cronje said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged to clamp down on endemic corruption, but his efforts have been stymied by a lack of support within his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and a dearth of capacity in law-enforcement agencies. No high-profile politicians have been convicted in connection with the theft of more than R500 billionfrom the state during former president Jacob Zuma’s rule.
Ramaphosa last month revised regulations to allow evidence presented at an ongoing inquiry into state corruption, led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to be used by law-enforcement agencies. That amendment has helped accelerate the NPA’s investigations, Cronje said.
“The support I’m now getting from the Zondo commission will bring me home faster and more reliably,” she said.
The NPA has a pipeline of high-profile cases that are almost ready to go to court, Cronje said, without providing further details.
The Estina scandal involved the leasing of a state-owned farm near the Free State province town of Vrede to Estina Pty Limited under a free 99-year contract. The regional government agreed to help develop it, ostensibly to set up a dairy project that would create 200 jobs. Prosecutors say most of the R220 million in public funds transferred to the company ended up in the hands of the politically connected Gupta family, an allegation it denies.
South Africa’s government has requested the United Arab Emirates to extradite members of the Gupta family, who are originally from India, to face corruption-related allegations in Johannesburg.
The NPA has “battled to get co-operation from the UAE and India” in its investigations, Cronje said.
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