Embattled prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams on Wednesday denied the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) delayed an investigation into state capture.
Abrahams briefed Parliament’s portfolio committees on police and justice, where he was responding to claims by Lieutenant-Geneneral Yolisa Matakata, the head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), more commonly known as the Hawks, before MPs last week.
Matakata told MPs a docket, related to a Free State government dairy farm project from which millions were allegedly siphoned off to benefit the politically connected Gupta family, was ready in November, but the NPA only gave the go-ahead for arrests in February this year, creating the impression the prosecution was delayed and some suspects were allowed to flee the country.
“This I assure you is entirely incorrect,” said Abrahams on the Hawks and the NPA being at loggerheads over the politically sensitive investigation.
“We nevertheless dispute the utterances made by General Matakata, specifically as it related to the NPA.”
Abrahams gave a history of the investigation into the eight “legs” of the state capture investigation, including the Estina dairy farm project.
He said the Estina docket was first provided to the NPA in August last year, but that information was still outstanding, including financial reports that were needed for a prima facie case to be presented against potential suspects. In November, the docket was again presented with new facts, but this was not enough.
“In December 2017, the prosecution team received a draft financial report from the DPCI. The team raised concerns that the report could not be verified against the bank statements to assist them that a prima facie case could be made out,” said Abrahams.
“This was accepted by all parties, as it was both rational and reasonable.”
He indicated a joint decision was made with the Hawks to effect the arrests in February.
Following Abrahams’ briefing, Matakata, who was seated next to him, denied she said the NPA had hindered the Hawks investigation, saying she only spoke about a delay in the arrests being effected.
She backtracked, saying an impression was incorrectly created that she had attempted to “throw the NDPP under the bus”.
In February, the Hawks arrested eight people for allegedly misappropriating taxpayers’ funds meant for the Vrede Dairy Project, which was set to benefit black farmers in the Free State.
The project was run by Estina, a company linked to the Gupta brothers.
One of the Gupta brothers, Ajay, is currently a fugitive from justice after the Hawks issued a warrant of arrest against him. The Hawks would not say which matter he is being sought for, but confirmed it was not related to the Estina project.
– African News Agency (ANA)