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President appoints Shamila Batohi as new NPA head

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced Shamila Batohi as the new National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).

President Cyril Ramaphosa announces new NDPP Shamila Batohi at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 4 December 2018. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

PRETORIA - President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that Shamila Batohi is the new National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).

"After consideration of their recommendations, I have decided, in terms of Section 179 of the Constitution, to appoint Advocate Shamila Batohi as the new National Director of Public Prosecutions. I am confident that Advocate Batohi possesses all the attributes of a capable NDPP," Ramaphosa said.

Batohi was among five candidates recommended to the president to be considered for the position.

Eleven candidates were interviewed by a panel led by Minister Jeff Radebe.

The president says Batohi has extensive experience.

“For much of the last decade, she has served as a senior legal advisor to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. As the NPA Act requires, she has the experience, conscientiousness and integrity to be entrusted with the responsibilities of this office. Despite the many challenges the NPA has faced in the past, we know that there are women and men of great ability, experience and commitment within the NPA who are dedicated to doing their job and doing it well.”

Batohi says she is ready to serve the country.

“My only obligation is to serve the country with humility and dedication to the best of my ability. Each one of us, no matter where we are, must be ready to sacrifice the necessary, to fight the good fight. Our country needs us.”

WATCH: Shamila Batohi appointed new NDPP

THE STATE OF THE NPA

The new NPA head has a big task ahead of her as she takes over the reins of what many have branded “a dysfunctional institution”.

During his maiden state of the nation address, Ramaphosa gave the commitment that government would urgently attend to the leadership crisis at the NPA to ensure the institution is and able to perform its mandate without any outside interference.

Eleven months later, the prosecuting body now has a new head.

Batohi enters an institution that has for years been marred by a leadership and credibility crisis compounded by allegations of political interference in key decisions.

The NPA was dragged all the way to the Supreme Court of Appeal for dropping corruption charges against then-President Jacob Zuma, with its decision declared irrational.

Batohi also comes in at a time when the organisation has been criticised for its handling of the state capture investigation, having recently provisionally withdrawn the Gupta-linked Estina dairy project case.

She has the major task of restoring public trust in the institution which has never had a head finish their full term with many leaving under a cloud.

Just recently, two senior officials Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi were suspended by Ramaphosa and will face inquiries into their fitness to hold office.

Batohi will have to heal the divisions within the NPA while ensuring that the credibility of this institution is restored.

WHO IS BATOHI?

Batohi is a former state prosecutor from KwaZulu-Natal and now International Criminal Court law advisor.

Her most high-profile case is the prosecution of the late former Proteas captain Hansie Cronje, who was involved in match-fixing scandals.

Batohi said during the interview process that the NPA vision to deliver justice needed to be expanded.

“To create confidence in the NPA in the eyes of the public and I think that’s what has to drive everything that the NDPP does. If we can ensure that the NPA has credibility and trust as far as the public is concerned, then I think we’ve come a long way.”

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been without a permanent head since the Constitutional Court set aside the appointment of Shaun Abrahams in August.

Ramaphosa has had the names of the five recommended candidates for the last two weeks.

The shortlisted candidates were Advocate Siyabulela Mapoma, Advocate Andrea Johnson, Advocate Rodney de Kock, Advocate Batohi and Advocate Simphiwe Mlotshwa.

All the candidates demonstrated strong independence, a deep understanding of the organisation, and the need to steer it in a new direction.

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