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New NPA head must be 'scandal free'

Former SIU head Willem Heath says its vital the new NPA head has no scandals hanging over him.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - With only three days left for President Jacob Zuma to appoint a new National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head, former Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head Willem Heath says it's vital he picks someone who is scandal free.

Zuma has promised the Constitutional Court that he will make an appointment by the end of this week.

Heath says it's vital the new NPA head has no scandals hanging over him.

He says the person must be seen as up to the task.

"He must be strong, fit to prosecute and at the same time he must exercise his powers with dignity."

It's been claimed Zuma wants to appoint Magistrate Stanley Gumede who has outstanding complaints against him at the Magistrates Commission.

The NPA has effectively been without a legally-appointed permanent head since September 2007 when Vusi Pikoli was suspended.

Nomgcobo Jiba has been acting as National Director of Public Prosecutions, but has indicated she does not want the job on a permanent basis.

Jiba took over the post after the Constitutional Court ruled last year that former NPA head Menzi Simelane's appointment was irregular.

Constitutional lobby group, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), has argued that Zuma's failure to permanently appoint a permanent NPA head constitutes a failure to fulfil a constitutional obligation.

Last month, the president promised through court papers to make the appointment.

Zuma was responding to a legal challenge by Casac.

The group's Lawson Naidoo said they expect an appointment this week and they expect Zuma to appoint someone fit and proper.

"I think the court was quite clear in terms of how the president needs to evaluate the person, who is also independent to head the NPA."

Naidoo said that if no appointment is made they will have to continue their case.