Estina arrests: NPA says it did not hinder work of Hawks


The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) acting head Lieutenant General Yolisa Matakata says contrary to media reports, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) never hindered the work of the Hawks in the Estina investigation matter.

She said this when she, alongside NPA head Shaun Abrahams, appeared before the joint meeting of the portfolio committees on police and justice and correctional services on Wednesday.

Following her appearance before the Portfolio Committee on Police two weeks ago on February 28, the Lieutenant General told MPs that the DPCI handed over a docket on the Estina matter in November last year and stated that they only effected arrests in February 2018 because the Hawks were awaiting a prosecutorial decision from the NPA.

The Lieutenant General said on Wednesday that the perception that her comments insinuated that the NPA hindered the work of the DPCI were incorrect.
“Firstly it has to be clarified because the presentation started with what was said in the Portfolio Committee on Police by myself in that the work of the DPCI was hindered by the NPA.
“I think that question was asked twice and I expressly said that the work of the DPCI was never hindered by the NPA but gave context to maybe hindering in that context might be the time delay if it was perceived like that … of working out from the onset that the docket was provided up until the arrest of the suspects, that there was a hindering in that context of people taken to court, but not necessarily that NPA hindered the work of the DPCI.
“I just want to correct that because it seems as if there is that understanding that I indicated that the work of the DPCI was hindered by the NPA. I need to emphasise that,” she said.

Briefing MPs on Wednesday, Advocate Abrahams responded by giving a blow-by-blow account of meetings and collaboration between the DPCI and NPA on the matter, stating that delays were on some instances caused by the fact that concerns were raised over the fact that there wasn’t sufficient information or evidence to prosecute on the matter.

He said he never delayed arrests of those implicated in the matter as those decisions are taken independent from his office.
“To answer your questions, was the investigation to the Estina matter concluded in November 2017. In other words, was a fully investigated docket submitted to the National Prosecuting Authority in November 2017? The answer is an emphatic no. That much is evidenced from the facts I presented today.
“Was the DPCI only given a go ahead by the NPA team of prosecutors in February 2018 which resulted in the arrests? That is correct. The investigations were at a stage where a prima facie case had been made against the individuals had been arrested … when the warrants of arrests were [issued].”

Abrahams said the NPA regarded the DPCI as one of their critical partners in the fight against national and trans-national crime, financial crimes, maladministration, money laundering, “corruption and organised crime in all its forms and manifestations”.
“We look forward to continue working closely with the DPCI in building on the already entrenched professional relationship, goodwill and generally good relations between the two institutions and of giving effect to the provisions of section 41 (18) of the Constitution,” he said.

Matakata said the media reports that emerged that painted a picture of a stand-off between the DPCI and the NPA were incorrect.
“I think if we can really understand that we are mandated both, and I am also mandated by the Act, DPCI has to function in a multi-disciplinary approach.
“We [DPCI] have to work with other government institutions and DPCI has to work with prosecutors, there is no other way, because they must take matters to court, they must prosecute the matter.”