Corruption Watch has been admitted by the Constitutional Court as amicus curiae in the matter between the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) vs the minister of justice and constitutional development and the national director of public prosecutions. The case concerns a challenge by the NSPCA to the Criminal Procedure Act, which allows only a private person to institute a private prosecution to the exclusion of juristic persons. Both the NSPCA and Corruption Watch contend that such legislative exclusion is unconstitutional and should be amended to include juristic persons.
The case will be heard in the Constitutional Court on 23 August 2016.
In both the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal it was found that there was no right for juristic persons to bring a private prosecution in terms of section 7(1) of the Criminal Procedure Act.
In its current appeal against the legislative provision, the NSPCA argues that juristic persons – organisations, associations and companies – should be allowed to prosecute those responsible for wrong-doing, in this case acts of animal cruelty, if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has refused or decided against prosecuting such crimes. The NPA, as the ultimate decision-maker regarding whether or not to prosecute on behalf of the state, often decides not to do so for a variety of reasons.
“Our decision to make submissions in this matter stems from our substantial interest in obtaining the right of juristic persons to bring private prosecutions to ensure that perpetrators of corrupt activities are held accountable for their actions, and that this is done so in the public interest,” said David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch.
Corruption Watch is of the view that allowing juristic persons to engage in private prosecutions where the NPA has declined to prosecute is a critical issue in combating corruption, as it increases the prospects of successful convictions for corruption. It also reduces the incentives of those accused of corruption to seek to influence the NPA in an improper manner.
The organisation has intervened in this matter because it has a particular interest in ensuring that the increasing number of cases involving illicit financial flows are capable of being prosecuted by companies and organisations like itself.
A copy of Corruption Watch’s application for leave to appeal can be accessed here together with the Constitutional Court order admitting Corruption Watch as amicus curiae.
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