National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, says a new approach is needed in the way crimes are prioritised.

Batohi says the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has come to a conclusion that they cannot continue to do things the way they have always been done.

She says even though a lot is being done, people still do not feel safe.

Briefing Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, Batohi says it was no longer enough to prioritise only high-level cases.

She says they have had discussions with the police to start prioritising housebreaking.

Batohi says a survey has shown that this is the one crime that people fear the most.

She says, “So we are looking to prioritise these particular crime types, so that together with our partner in SAPS we can have a very focused approach being driven by statistics in terms of where we prioritise and make sure that we are able to measure the impact, and hopefully target those criminal gangs that are involved in housebreaking and not dealing with the odd housebreaker one here one there. We really want to look at those that do housebreakings a career.”

TRC

Members of Parliament have urged the NPA to make the finalisation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission-related cases its priority.

Head of Prosecutions Advocate Rodney de Kock says the TRC investigations are located in the organised crime offices in the various provinces.

He says they have appointed dedicated prosecutors to deal with these cases for a three-year period.

De Kock says the Hawks have also appointed dedicated investigators to work only on TRC cases.

Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe says it is important for these cases to be dealt with as quickly as possible.

He says, “I think our discomfort is based on the fact that each day that passes by it becomes more and more difficult to prosecute those cases because people who committed those crimes are very old now. So each day that goes by it becomes very complicated, but it is something that we have to work together to ensure that our country becomes a better place to live in.”

Security services

Magwanishe says it is important for the country’s security services to be funded adequately.

He says failure to ensure this could lead to a deterioration in the country’s security.

Magwanishe says, “I think the view that we should take is that over a long period of time the criminal justice system has been underfunded and that is coming back to bite us. And let us not wait until a time when we have a terrorist in our country to find that our army is not ready. Our intelligence is not ready and our prosecution services are also not ready.”

VIDEO: Last year, the NPA said it wanted autonomy from the Department of Justice: