20 November 2017 Read: 54
Former state prosecutor Gerrie Nel paid a visit to Tzaneen on Tuesday evening. He addressed members of the public at the Fairview Lodge conference hall and delivered an insightful address on the effects on corruption at local government level. Nel, who now works for Afriforum, explained briefly how the justice system works and the processes that need to be followed in order to privately prosecute an institution or individual.
“Corruption is much further reaching than politicians who steal money or take bribes, it occurs in businesses and other organizations too and ultimately leads to the same negative outcomes. If we do not take a stand against the corrupt, we will all pay the price,” he said.
Talking about the current situation within the South African justice system, Nel painted a positive picture stating that all is well within the judicial system and there is still hope. “We have fantastic judges in our courts who prove that the system is not broken. In fact, high profile cases against high profile individuals such as President Zuma have proven that our magistrates and judges support rational decisions regarding corruption.”
Nel explained corruption in the simplest of terms, saying that if someone is living above their means, they are clearly corrupt. “A municipal official earning a salary of R20 000 a month and driving a Bugatti should raise some eyebrows and is very worthy of closer inspection.” He explained that it is easier to successfully prosecute a corrupt organization on behalf of a community or group and that if we hope to address corruption at the highest government levels, we should start by addressing the problem at local municipal level. The evening was not very well attended despite it being widely advertised ahead of time. Those in attendance were offered the opportunity to direct questions to the veteran advocate in a Questions and Answers session after his address. “Gerrie has helped me understand that everyone is equal before the law and that gives me hope.”
Gaining fame for his prosecution of former Paralympian, Oscar Pistorius for the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, Nel is known as one of the most feared prosecutors in the courtroom. Glen Agliotti, whom Nel successfully prosecuted in 2006 for the murder of Brett Kebble, spoke of Nel with respect. Until January this year, he was a prosecutor for the National Prosecuting Authority, before he joined Afriforum where he will lead the fight for justice through private prosecutions.