The new National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Advocate Shamila Batohi would fiercely challenge any political interference into her new role and would even go to the Constitutional Court to defend her mandate.
Batohi had finally started her new job as the national director of public prosecutions yesterday when she was introduced to the NPA management and staff by Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha.
Her appointment by President Cyril Ramaphosa in December, brought hope for the “new dawn” since her predecessors, such as Shaun Abrahams, could not last in the hot seat due to political meddling. But she would not stand for any political interference and was confident she would not have to, as she received that assurance from the president.
Speaking to the media at a briefing at the NPA offices yesterday, Batohi, a former International Criminal Court advisor, said she made it clear during her interview for the post that she would need to meet with the president, should she get the job.
“When finally it was decided that I would be the president’s preferred candidate, I did have a conversation with him.
“I said to him: ‘I know it’s guaranteed by the constitution but I want you, sitting here, to give me assurance’.
“Unhesitatingly, the president said there would be no political interference into the work of the NPA.”
Batohi said despite the constitution guaranteeing independence and for the NPA to act without fear, favour or prejudice, it had recently been “difficult”.
But she intended to fight for the integrity of the agency, should there be political meddling.
“I feel fairly confident that that will not happen. But who knows what will happen in future?
“If it does, for any reason, then I will fiercely defend it.
“It’s a constitutional issue and I will take it to the Constitutional Court if needs be,” said Batohi.
The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture recently heard evidence that NPA deputy boss Nomgcobo Jiba and top official Lawrence Mrwebi allegedly received monthly cash bribes from controversial Bosasa in exchange for information into the company’s investigations. Batohi said such allegations would receive immediate attention.
“I will, as soon as possible, engage with relevant stakeholders, including the team at the commission and the head of the special investigating unit, among others.
“We have already met with the police commissioner and the minister of police.
“Perpetrators of crime and corruption within the state and the private sector, regardless of who you are, where you are and how rich you are, your days of acting with impunity are numbered.”