Batohi confirms Cronje’s departure from NPA’s Investigating Directorate

The National Prosecuting Authority on Thursday confirmed the early departure of the first head of its Investigating Directorate, advocate Hermione Cronje.

National director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi said that after discussions with Cronje, she decided to support her request to be released.

Cronje’s resignation will take effect on 1 March next year.

“After constructive engagement with Adv Cronje, I have supported her request to vacate office as head of the Investigating Directorate before the end of her term,” Batohi said. 

“Adv Cronje has indicated the reasons for her decision and I fully understand.” 

She would recommend Cronje’s decision to President Cyril Ramaphosa and ask that he accept her resignation, Batohi added. 

Ramaphosa established the directorate in 2019 to focus on serious corruption cases and last year signed a proclamation amending regulation 11 of the Zondo commission to allow it to share evidence with the directorate to facilitate the prosecution of state capture cases.

The announcement of Cronje’s departure comes just a month before acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is due to release the final report of the commission, which is expected to add significantly to the workload of the directorate.

Batohi is due to address a media briefing on Monday 6 December, and said she would then give further details on how the prosecuting authority would handle the recruitment of a successor to Cronje.

She thanked Cronje for her commitment to the job.

“After a challenging first start-up phase, Adv Cronje will leave the ID well-positioned to deliver on its important mandate. I am confident, given all the groundwork that has been done, that its work will continue unaffected in the coming months,” she said.

Batohi said that, in the remaining months of her tenure, Cronje would be assisted by the national deputy director of public prosecutions, advocate Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba, to ensure a smooth transition for the next incumbent.

“Adv Cronje’s commitment to justice and to holding those responsible for corruption to account has always been clear,” Batohi said. “Indeed, it is something that brought us together and will continue to be a commitment that we will always share. We thank Adv Cronje for her hard work, commitment and sacrifices made in setting up and positioning the ID to bring to justice those most responsible for corruption in our country,” she.

Batohi is increasingly faced with frustration in government at the lack of high-profile corruption convictions of those implicated in graft.

And Cronje has for some time been under pressure for the perceived slow progress her office has made on matters related to state capture, a well-placed source said on Thursday.

She has sought to secure the extradition of the Gupta brothers to face charges for their central role in the state capture scandal but the family has succeeded in stalling the process by fighting South Africa’s application for Interpol to issue red alerts for their arrest.

The ID suffered a setback last year when the Johannesburg high court discharged a draft restraint order of more than R1-billion in assets of Regiments Capital on the grounds that it failed to make material disclosures. The directorate appealed, and judgment is expected next year.

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