Jooste should answer before a criminal court judge

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Jooste should answer before a criminal court judge

Is former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste, like the Guptas, benefiting from the destruction of the criminal justice system by former President Jacob Zuma, who systematically broke down the institutions of ultimate justice? Ferial Haffajee, in an analysis on Fin24, suggest so, saying years of state capture have ground down authorities’ ability to investigate and prosecute fraud. She says despite the growing body of proof in the past year on allegations that Jooste provided false and misleading information with the intent to commit fraud, it was clear that the Hawks have not done significant work on the charges already laid by the Steinhoff board in January. Haffajee says the audit committee chair of Steinhoff’s board, Steve Booysen, provided evidence to the Hawks in January when charges were laid, according to a recent answer to a parliamentary question by the Minister of Police Bheki Cele. ‘As the global retailer’s board belatedly excavates what happened at the company, a picture of inflated profits, false statements or – in simple terms – fraud on a grand scale, is emerging.’ But instead of being subject to cross-examination in a criminal trial before a judge, Jooste instead was able to bluster his way through a three-hour appearance at Parliament on Wednesday. Jooste’s appearance at Parliament on Wednesday may provide a modicum of public justice and opprobrium, Haffajee says, but he has clearly benefited from the NPA’s lack of capacity. Haffajee argues that even if the Hawks had turned the report into a docket, the NPA could not have moved quickly as it has also been decimated in the past decade. ‘The NPA has not, for example, been able to successfully prosecute a single case involving state capture or related corruption. Even a relatively simple case like the mismanagement of development funds for the Gupta’s Estina dairy project in the Free State has been a struggle for state prosecutors.’ In the Steinhoff case, the result is that most pension funds which had bought the Steinhoff story and have now lost billions of rands from the portfolios of ordinary, hardworking South Africans, are unlikely to get compensation.

Full Fin24 report

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