News / South Africa

Yadhana Jadoo
3 minute read
12 Dec 2017
5:29 am

Calls mount for Thuli Madonsela to take charge and head NPA

Yadhana Jadoo

Former public protector would be the ideal prosecutions head, says ISS.

Outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela

With mounting calls for former public protector Thuli Madonsela to head the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), it’s likely the ANC will not support this because the party never appreciated her independence.

The High Court in Pretoria ruled last week that beleaguered NPA boss Shaun Abrahams vacate his position – and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa appoint a new candidate.

President Jacob Zuma is currently appealing the court ruling. The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has suggested Madonsela would be the ideal person to fill this crucial role, but – according to political analyst Ralph Mathekga – not even the moderates in the ANC would allow this.

“They have never appreciated that level of independence from her. Most of them even at some point attacked her,” Mathekga said.

While the level of euphoria from the public, who support Madonsela, is understandable, he added: “Even the moderate in the ANC will not tolerate this. There is no doubt about factions in the ANC – it doesn’t mean they will outright support independence of people who serve in those positions. It will be difficult for the ANC to stomach people such as Madonsela or [former state prosecutor] Gerrie Nel.”

Speaking on impartiality, which is vital for an NPA boss, Mathekga said there were a sufficient and credible number of lawyers countrywide.

“I do think South Africa has a large pool. But the ANC believes it is entitled to a prosecutor who understands the mandate of the ANC. The appointment is never going to be based on the public more – that is highly unlikely,” he said.

“The likes of Madonsela and Nel, even if they instil confidence in the institution – are controversial and have strong views. The question is, can the ANC steer away from trying to actively influence where the NPA goes?”

Gareth Newham, head of justice and violence prevention at ISS said the most important attributes needed is a person who is seen broadly by the public as being completely independent, have integrity, and who only makes decisions based on the facts before them and the law.

“If the person has belonged to a political party that wouldn’t be a good candidate as many people might be open to allow their political beliefs to affect their decisions. The notion of independence is crucial,” he said.

“It would have to be an advocate of a high court. They would have to understand the law, have a law degree, done legal work.”

Newham said in this regard, Madonsela fits the role perfectly. “She has always been very careful in her reports… To date I am not aware of those reports being successfully reviewed. She is the kind of person, based on her conduct in office as public protector, you want.”

In her seven-year tenure, Madonsela turned around the public protector’s office and made it the most respected Chapter 9 Institution in SA, said Newham.

“If she would be appointed as national director of public prosecutions she would bring the same quality and attributes to the NPA.”


NPA gives Zuma until end of January next year to file fresh representations

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