Batohi faces uphill battle to turn NPA around as she officially takes office

Shamila Batohi is the first female head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and takes over one of the toughest positions in the country.

FILE: Advocate Shamila Batohi is announced as the new NDPP at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 4 December 2018. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Newly appointed prosecutions boss Shamila Batohi will officially take office on Friday.

Batohi is the first female head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and takes over one of the toughest positions in the country.

She was appointed last year to succeed Shaun Abrahams, whose tenure was cut short after a Constitutional Court ruling that his appointment was invalid.

Batohi starts her job today after her stint at the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

South Africans will be looking to Batohi to repair the NPA, whose reputation has been tainted by allegations of political influence over the years.

She will be under great pressure to restore the body’s credibility, especially in light of recent allegations at two commissions of inquiry detailing how senior NPA officials took money to quash prosecutions due to political considerations.

No NPA boss in post-apartheid South Africa has completed their 10-year term in office and there’s a huge expectation for Batohi to set the precedent and turn things around.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Accountability says that Batohi may struggle to get the prosecutions body to function as it should if steps are not taken to improve the functionality of law enforcement agencies.

It is Batohi's first day in office today and the to-do list is long.

She inherits an organisation beset with problems and allegations of partial capture by some top officials with connections to the political elite.

An inquiry is also underway to look into the fitness of top advocates Lawrence Mrwebi and Nomgcobo Jiba, who've been implicated in acts of corruption.

The Institute for Accountability's Paul Hoffman says that Batohi will need a lot of help.

"Unless the legislature and the executive help her by taking the work about corruption out of the NPA and the Hawks and give it to a suitably placed and resourced integrity commission."