An Official at the National Public Prosecutions Authority (NPPA) has dispelled allegations that the institution criminalises administrative mistakes committed by public officials on their respective duties.
Normally, administrative mistakes do not constitute crimes and are dealt with through disciplinary measures.
However, a private lawyer speaking on condition of anonymity, recently told The New Times that under the current campaign against corruption, prosecution prefers penal charges even against officials who commit administrative mistakes.
Augustin Nkusi, a spokesperson for prosecution said yesterday in telephone interview that his department cannot file criminal charges against officials who commit administrative mistakes.
“A crime is made up of three elements; material, legal and moral, if one of these is missing, we cannot prosecute someone,’’ he said in defence of his department.
Nkusi said that he also heard lawyers praying in courts for certain criminal activities to be decriminalized and treated as administrative errors.
He argued that criminalizing administrative errors is not only unjust, but cannot also stand the test of a judicial process.
Nkusi added that his department is competent enough to distinguish between a criminal and an administrative mistake.
He noted that in the Auditor General’s report of 2006, over 100 cases of financial misappropriation were reported to the prosecution but only 12 made it to court as others did not constitute criminal elements.
“Officials feign ignorance to defeat justice and lawyers have to defend their clients,” he added.
Asked if prosecution of officials who fail to justify the source their wealth is not hindering hard work, Nkusi said that corruption is getting sophisticated and tougher laws are meant to deal with that sophistication.
“It is a crime in our legal books for one to accumulate wealth whose source cannot be justified.”
For the last few months only, a dozen local government officials have been arrested and arraigned before courts of law over charges relating to misappropriation of public funds.