Shamila Batohi TRC

Shamila Batohi. Photo: GCIS/ Flickr

NPA: TRC prosecutions being prioritised – Advocate Shamila Batohi

Advocate Shamila Batohi says a unit has already been established to deal with TRC cases and nearly 100 are being investigated

Shamila Batohi TRC

Shamila Batohi. Photo: GCIS/ Flickr

The Head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Advocate Shamila Batohi says they are hard at work prioritising cases arising from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Batohi appeared before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on Wednesday, 1 June 2022.

She said a unit has already been established to deal with TRC cases. This unit now runs under the Deputy NDPP, where prosecutors in the unit are focused solely on these cases.

“This is critically important because in the past, we had very few staff members that were dealing with a number of issues in addition to the TRC matters and this is not possible. If we want to act urgently in these matters, then we needed dedicated capacity,” Batohi said.

The TRC was launched in 1995 at the end of apartheid, with the aim of promoting reconciliation and forgiveness among perpetrators and victims of apartheid by the full disclosure of truth. It also placed focus on crimes related to human rights violations that were committed under the apartheid regime.

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Advocate Shamila Batohi has further told Parliamentarians that the lack of accountability for those behind the apartheid-era crimes continued to undermine the rule of law in the country.

“It’s an absolute travesty of justice that victims of these atrocities committed during apartheid era are still waiting for justice either in form of prosecution or inquest that has been opened,” Batohi said.

But she has also noted that their efforts are paying off. In the last seven months, they have managed to reopen 38 new investigations into the deaths of detainees. There are currently 97 matters under investigation and there are more cases that have been identified and will be reopened.

“We realise that we need to act with a real sense of urgency in terms of trying to deliver justice to as many victims, survivors and families as we can. We need to learn from… lessons of the past and ensure that the NPA works independently, and thereby ensure its credibility. Time is not on our side… Potential accused are dying, witnesses are dying and families are dying not knowing what happened to their loved ones. So to act with an absolute sense of urgency is hugely important,”

NPA head Advocate Shamila Batohi