The NPA derives its mandate from section 179 of the Constitution.
Section 179(2) expressly empowers the prosecuting authority to institute criminal proceedings on behalf of the state. Legislation requires the National Prosecuting Authority exercise its mandate without fear, favour, or prejudice.
Section 179(5) of the Constitution outlines responsibilities.
As head of the prosecuting authority, National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), along with 4 Directors of Public Prosecutions (DPPs), who lead NPA offices within the various seats of the High Court, are responsible for ensuring compliance with the constitutionally mandated obligation.
In terms of section 179(5) of the Constitution, the NDPP determines, with the concurrence of the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, prosecution policy and issues policy directives, which must be observed by all DPPs and prosecutors.
The NDPP is also given the authority to review a decision to prosecute or not and intervene in a prosecution if directives are not complied with.
National Prosecuting Authority Act sets out the NPA structure.National Prosecuting Authority Act, 1998 (Act No. 32 of 1998) (NPA Act): The NPA Act ratifies Section 179 of the Constitution which endorses the NPA as the country’s sole prosecuting authority.
The Act sets out the structure as follows:
- A National Director of Public Prosecutions, appointed by the President
- Four Deputy Directors of Public Prosecutions who are responsible for the administration of prosecutions within their jurisdictional area.
- Directors and Special Directors of Public Prosecutions
- Members of Prosecuting Authority
Section 20 grants the NPA the power to institute and conduct criminal proceedings. This authority extends to:
- Carry out any necessary functions to institute and conduct criminal proceedings.
- Discontinue criminal proceedings in the interest of justice.
All prosecutors and NDPP, DNDPPs, DPPs and DDPPs are empowered to carry out these functions.
Sections 33 sets out the oversight role of the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.
The Section sets out the responsibilities of the NDPP that enable this oversight role, including:
- Must, at the request of the Minister, provide reports or information relating to any case, matter or subject dealt with by the NPA, including policy directives.
- Provide reasoning behind any decision taken by he NDPP as it relates to their duties.
The NPA exercises these powers on behalf of the Republic.