Advocate Shamila Batohi appointed SA’s new NPA head

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Colleta Dewa

Pretoria- South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday appointed Advocate Shamila Batohi as the new National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).

Speaking during a media briefing at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, the president said Advocate Batohi has a great responsibility in fostering the demands of a democratic legal system.

“The NDPP in our country occupies a vital position in our democracy and makes an essential contribution to upholding the rule of law.  As we address matters that South Africans are most concerned about, such as state capture, corruption and widespread criminality, our country needs a National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) that is above reproach. The NDPP needs to be able to take decisions independently and impartially,” said Ramaphosa.

Batohi is the first woman to lead the NPA and she has a challenging mission ahead, cleaning up the NPA which has in the past been cramped by political meddling and blemished in disputes around the independence of the position of top prosecutor.

“In appointing a new NDPP, we are addressing the state of dysfunctionality and deficiencies in the National Prosecuting Authority identified by the Constitutional Court. The National Director of Public Prosecutions occupies a vital position in our democracy and makes an essential contribution in upholding the rule of law,” added the president.

The president had been given until December 19 to appoint a replacement for ousted NDPP Shaun Abrahams, whose appointment was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court.

The announcement on Tuesday followed a selection process, which involved an advisory panel interviewing 11 candidates for the post.

The panel that was set up by the president was led by energy minister Jeff Radebe and they shortlisted five nominees for the post.

Simphiwe Mlotshwa, Siyabulela Mapoma, Andrea Johnson and Rodney de Kock were the other four nominees.

The process was the first since the NPA was established in 1998.

During her interview by the panel, Batohi described the office of the NPA as a “house on fire”.

She also told the panel that she believes that one it was vital for the people of South Africa to have confidence in a national director, adding that when one becomes a manager it is a “terrifying prospect” but being a manager meant that one needs to “inspire people”.

Batohi has been a senior legal adviser to the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court since 2009.

She was the first woman to be appointed as a director of public prosecutions when she took up the job in 2009 in KwaZulu-Natal.

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