TRC prosecutions receiving attention: Batohi

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) National Director Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Advocate Shamila Batohi, says a unit within the institute has been formed to deal solely with cases arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), as a matter of urgency.

Batohi was updating the National Assembly Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on these prosecutions on Wednesday.

She explained that a dedicated TRC component now runs under the Deputy NDPP, where prosecutors in the unit are focused solely on these cases.

“This is critically important because in the past, we had very few staff members that were dealing with a number of issues in addition to the TRC matters and this is not possible. If we want to act urgently in these matters, then we needed dedicated capacity,” she said.

Batohi said the unit's “efforts are paying off”.

“We’ve had a substantial improvement over the last seven months, which has resulted in the reopening of 38 new investigations into the deaths of detainees.

“There are currently 97 matters under investigation and there are more matters that we have identified that will be reopened,” she said.

Furthermore, the Missing Persons Task Team recovered the remains of 179 missing persons, with 167 of those remains returned to families.

Batohi said the NPA is fast tracking outstanding matters as a matter of urgency.

“We realise that we need to act with a real sense of urgency in terms of trying to deliver justice to as many victims, survivors and families as we can. We need to learn from… lessons of the past and ensure that the NPA works independently, and thereby ensure its credibility.

“Time is not on our side… Potential accused are dying, witnesses are dying and families are dying not knowing what happened to their loved ones. So to act with an absolute sense of urgency is hugely important,” she said.

Batohi said the NPA is aware of the importance of justice for many families who are yet to uncover the truth about what happened to their loved ones under the tyranny of the apartheid government.

“It is an absolute travesty of justice that victims of these atrocities committed in the apartheid era are still waiting for justice either in the form of prosecutions or in the form of inquests that are reopened so that they can understand what happened to their loved ones.

“For us as lawyers for the people... we take a very victim-responsive approach in our strategy. It’s really important that the victims, survivors and the families receive some level of justice for these atrocities,” Baothi said. –

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