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Batohi: Problems at NPA worse than I expected

Batohi made the remarks at a briefing in Pretoria where she formally introduced the head of the newly established Investigative Directorate, Advocate Hermione Cronje.

Prosecutions boss Shamila Batohi at a media briefing in Pretoria on 24 May 2019 where she introduced the head of the newly established Investigative Directorate, Advocate Hermione Cronje (right). Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN

PRETORIA - Prosecutions boss Shamila Batohi said that when she arrived at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) she found many challenges and a situation worse than she had anticipated but she was optimistic that the situation would change for the better.

Batohi made the remarks at a briefing in Pretoria where she formally introduced the head of the newly established Investigative Directorate, Advocate Hermione Cronje.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Batohi in February.

The advocate said that the NPA had the staff capable of rebuilding confidence in the organisation.

"I found huge challenges and I can safely say that it was worse than I expected but also very committed and dedicated staff and I want to say that to start off with, there is an absolute groundswell of good dedicated prosecutors just wanting to do their jobs better and working under very difficult conditions and the problems with credibility in the NPA were largely one of leadership."

Batohi said she had absolute confidence in Cronje to lead the Investigative Directorate, saying she had the resolve and commitment to make the unit a success.

Ramaphosa established the directorate earlier this year to focus on serious fraud and corruption and the cases emanating from the various commissions of inquiry.

Batohi said that Cronje’s skills and work experience more than qualified her to lead the unit.

"I want to assure you that having worked with her in the past, when we were both in the NPA, that she has the temperament, the resolve and the commitment to make a success of this hugely challenging assignment. She is passionate, astute and will fiercely defend the rule of law. If anyone can do this job, I know she can."

Cronje said that she had no illusions about the mammoth task ahead of her but said among the priorities was cleaning up the security sector.

"Specifically the criminal justice system, we want to ensure that we restore the integrity of government and in order to do that, we need to get our own house in order first. The public needs to have confidence that those who need to address this problem are able and capable and have the integrity to do so."

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