State Capture and the Political Manipulation of Criminal Justice Agencies: A Joint Submission to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture

This joint submission from Corruption Watch and the Institute for Security Studies, two South African civil society organisations, is concerned with the manipulation of criminal justice agencies by the Executive under the administration of former president Jacob Zuma. This manipulation was a critical factor in entrenching state capture. The criminal justice agencies that are focused on are the South African Police Service (SAPS), particularly its crime intelligence division; the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks); the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA); and to a lesser degree, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). Manipulation of these agencies by the Executive has ensured impunity for members of the Executive (including the former president himself), their key political allies, and those involved in their networks of patronage. It has also been used to intimidate and coerce opponents, as well as employees of the criminal justice system. In addition, the crime intelligence division of the SAPS was used to promote the power of the dominant faction within the ANC during the Zuma era, inter alia by manipulating party processes such as national, provincial and local internal elections. Manipulation of the criminal justice system was also in evidence during the Thabo Mbeki era. However under the Zuma era it was pursued more consistently and aggressively, to the point where it was pursued at the expense of the criminal justice system and thus of the safety and security of South Africans. The issue of manipulation of criminal justice agencies is directly relevant to the terms of reference of this Commission. Increased manipulation of criminal justice agencies during the Zuma era was strongly connected to the viability of the state capture project. Apart from explicitly protecting Zuma and his family and friends from prosecution, the manipulation of criminal justice agencies functioned to secure control of the ANC for the Zuma faction. The viability of state capture in South Africa relied on the control of the ANC by Jacob Zuma and his allies and ensuring that they were not held accountable for illegal activity.