AfriForum’s Gerrie Nel says he’ll retire and play golf if NPA under Batohi does its job

Advocate Gerrie Nel, Head of Afriforum's private prosecuting unit is seen at a media briefing on the first person Afriforum will privately prosecute, Duduzane Zuma, son of the South African President, who was involved in a fatal accident which killed Phumzile Dube, 17 October 2017, Pretoria. Photo: Jacques Nelles

Former top prosecutor for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Gerrie Nel said on Wednesday that the main reason he had agreed to lead AfriForum’s private prosecutions unit was because the NPA had been in a state of disarray.

He quit the NPA in early 2017 and joined AfriForum because South African legislation makes private prosecution possible in cases where the NPA decides not to prosecute someone suspected of an offence.

He said he was concerned about the perception of the NPA’s tendency to selective prosecutions and that everyone was seemingly not equal before the law.

He said at the time: “AfriForum and I are now in a position to prosecute ourselves corrupt persons who are not prosecuted by the NPA.”

Since then, the unit has announced intentions to prosecute EFF leader Julius Malema, they attempted to prosecute Duduzane Zuma for culpable homicide and supported model Gabriella Engels’ attempt to get justice against former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe.

Today, they said they had managed to get an arrest warrant for Mugabe.

They announced today that they have also convinced the NPA to reverse a decision not to prosecute Alexis Bizos for allegedly assaulting his wife Monique van Oosterhout in 2015.

Much has changed since 2017, with new president Cyril Ramaphosa removing the invalidly appointed Shaun Abrahams as the head of the NPA and announcing Shamila Batohi as the new prosecutions boss.

Nel told journalists on Wednesday that he was willing to give Batohi the benefit of the doubt and, if the NPA prosecuted crime as it should, “I will retire and play golf.”

However, this retirement may still be long in the coming, with numerous analysts pointing to institutional problems at the NPA that cannot be fixed overnight – particularly the massive shortage of qualified prosecutors. The body continues to struggle to fill vacancies.

Abrahams told parliament in April this year that 78 prosecutors had been lost to the magistrates’ profession over the past two years, and about 70% of all magistrates’ posts were occupied by prosecutors.

The NPA had a budget shortfall of R186 million in the 2018/19 financial year‚ amounting to R435 million over the medium-term expenditure framework.

Citizen Reporter & Rorisang Kgosana / The Citizen