‘All of you’ must ‘get off your butts’ and ‘actively support’ the NPA – Hermione Cronje

National Prosecuting Authority investigative directorate head advocate Hermione Cronje makes her intentions clear at a press conference in Pretoria, May 2019. Picture: Michel Bega

The head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) investigative directorate says she fears ‘damage wrought’ by corruption is ‘irreparable’.

National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) investigative directorate head Hermione Cronje called on all South Africans to support the authority at a guest lecture for the University of Cape Town’s Summer School.

“[We] require all of you to get off your butts and look at how you can actively support, instead of actively watching and waiting to see what is happening next,” she said.

Cronje said the authority was making progress.

“We know who we are after and we will prosecute them. We have begun and will continue to work our way at it.”

However, she also said that “saboteurs” were trying to undo the NPA’s work, also conceded that she and national director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi inherited a “broken ship” when they assumed their positions at the NPA.

“It’s happening but happening while we are fixing the ship and the ship is so broken that that is a consuming exercise. Not just broken, it’s rotten in places and there are some saboteurs around who are undoing the work we are trying to do,” she said.

Cronje admitted to sometimes doubting whether it was possible to fix the NPA and bring those allegedly responsible for state capture to justice.

READ MORE: NPA’s Cronje sets her sights on the Guptas

“I have fears, fears that are your fears; fears that the damage wrought is irreparable, fears that the expectations of the public are impossible to meet and concerned at the state of the institution I had once proudly associated with,” she said.

“Still, day in and day out, I am gobsmacked at the scope and extent of the devastation,” she added.

She said state capture happened not just because of the main kingpins, but also because of many more mid-level government officials, members of the private sector, lawyers and accountants who allowed the rot to spread.

“Few people put up their hand and said, ‘I won’t allow this, not on my watch’.”

Despite her fears, she told those in attendance that she was “cautiously optimistic”.

“Most days I am cautiously optimistic. Some days I am wildly optimistic and think I have the best job in the world. I think we all keep going because there are no other options,” she said.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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