Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #78

Zondo Commission to resume public hearings, Batohi warns of pandemic pressure on prosecutions, and taxi strike looms

Zondo Commission to resume public hearings, Batohi warns of pandemic pressure on prosecutions, and taxi strike looms
Deputy Chief Justice Ray Zondo, centre, background, chairs the first day of the judicial commission of inquiry into State Capture on 20 August 2018. The commission is set to resume on 29 June. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

Over the weekend, the Zondo Commission said its public hearings would resume on 29 June. And prosecutions boss Shamila Batohi wrote of the pressure the pandemic is placing on prosecutions and the rule of law. Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority is investigating the theft of Covid-19 Relief Fund payouts. The taxi strike in Gauteng was still scheduled to go ahead on Monday 22 June despite promises of negotiations from government.

Swipe through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 21 June at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments; however, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

On Friday, the Zondo Commission said it would resume public hearings on 29 June. This comes after an influential coalition of more than 23 civil society organisations, under the banner of the Civil Society Working Group on State Capture, wrote to the commission. They voiced their concern that the pandemic was no excuse for a lack of transparency on the commission’s work during this time. They inquired about the progress of the hearings and called on the commission to release interim findings.

As Zukiswa Pikoli writes, the commission welcomed the letter and said that releasing an interim report would jeopardise future hearings.

Spotlight reports that civil society is calling for more transparency and accountability as the state shifts millions of rand around as part of its Covid-19 response. Alicestine October asked the Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal governments how much they have spent and on what.

The Covid-19 pandemic is putting pressure not just on prosecutions, but also the rule of law, wrote Shamila Batohi, the national director of public prosecutions at the National Prosecuting Authority. She warned that the impact of the pandemic will stretch over many years and prosecutors need to adjust their way of working. She argued they need to show empathy as poverty-driven crimes are likely to increase amid the economic fallout. As money is spent to rescue the economy, prosecutors need to be aware of the risk that it may be misused for political or financial gain. Read her full op-ed.

Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority is investigating the theft of R3.2-million from the Covid-19 Relief Fund. It was allegedly transferred to an employee of a consulting firm, who then transferred it to others.

By Sunday, the shutdown planned for by the South African National Taxi Council in Gauteng was still scheduled to go ahead on Monday. The council argues that the government’s relief fund for the industry is not enough. However, it says it is still open to discussions with the government to discuss other proposals.

Gauteng Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo urged the council to wait until negotiations with the ministry before starting the strike. He said he is concerned for the commuters who will be left stranded by the strike. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said increasing the relief fund is not possible and urged that the strike be scrapped.

Meanwhile, Sport and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has defended the relief process to help artists during the pandemic. The process has come under fire from some artists who claim it is flawed. Mthethwa argued that vulnerable artists are prioritised. DM

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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