While the country yesterday applauded the appointment of the new National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss, advocate Shamila Batohi has her work cut out for her, with many expecting the prosecution head to tackle state capture head-on.
Batohi was chosen for the post after 11 possible candidates were interviewed by a panel led by Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe.
Her appointment as national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday.
While it was widely welcomed by political parties, law fraternities, and unions, many have challenged her with state capture and ensuring those involved in corruption are brought to book.
Executive director of the Institute of Security Studies Anton du Plessis said the next step was enhancing the operational capacity of the prosecutors and police, but that improving the ability and integrity of the NPA would be a challenging task.
“Our new NDPP has her work cut out for her. She needs to inspire her staff and the public, and renew her belief in the independence of the prosecution. She must also improve the NPA’s performance and ensure that those involved in state capture and other serious crimes are brought to justice,” Du Plessis said.
But tackling state capture “head-on” also meant ensuring donations made by Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson to the man who appointed her, Ramaphosa, and his presidential campaign must be investigated and prosecuted if necessary, said Democratic Alliance shadow minister of justice Glynnis Breytenbach.
“This means, among other things, reinstituting charges against the accused in the Estina dairy matter, ensuring that former president Jacob Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution is vigorously opposed, and taking urgent steps to secure the extradition of members of the Gupta family to face justice in South Africa.
“Less glamorous but of equal importance is the hard work that will be required to get the NPA back up and running,” she said.
Breytenbach was the 12th shortlisted candidate for the “dream job”, but pulled out earlier this month.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) vowed to closely monitor Batohi’s performance and prosecutorial decisions to ensure she acts with “maximum impartiality and openness”, spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.
“Because for the longest time, cases opened against high-profile politicians and huge capitalist corporations were not followed by thorough prosecutions … We wish the NDPP well and believe that the appointment will bring some degree of stability and dependability to the country’s criminal justice system.”
The new NPA boss wasted no time in promising to target those who violate the values of the Constitution, especially for private gain.
“The NPA has important work to do, which includes devoting our efforts to holding accountable those who have corrupted our institutions and betrayed our public good and the values of our constitution for private gain, especially those in the most privileged positions of government and corporate power,” Batohi said.
The uphill road of Batohi’s predecessors
OUT. Bulelani Ngcuka (1998- 2004): was forced to resign under political pressure, after deciding to investigate then deputy president Jacob Zuma for possible corruption in the multibillion-rands arms deal.
FIRED. Vusi Pikoli (2005–2008) was fired by Kgalema Motlanthe, after instituting criminal charges against former police commissioner Jackie Selebi, and Zuma.
ZUMA MAN. Mokotedi Mpshe (acting NDPP): He was responsible for dropping the corruption charges against former president Jacob Zuma.
SHAFTED. Menzi Simelane (2009–2012): The Constitutional Court found his appointment was invalid, and in December he left the service of the NPA.
DISGRACED. Nomgcobo Jiba (acting NDPP) was struck off the roll of advocates in September 2016 for her role in the handling of a number of politically related cases, including the decision to drop corruption charges against former SAPS Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli.
BATTLE. Mxolisi Nxasana (October 1, 2013-May 11, 2015): He agreed to step down as NPA head in May 2015, following a long battle surrounding his fitness to hold office.
SHEEPISH. Shaun Abrahams (2015-August 2018): His appointment was set aside by a full bench of the high court in December last year, finding his appointment irregular, and ruling Zuma was conflicted.