NPA top job interviews: Final candidate describes organisation as 'a house on fire'

2018-11-16 20:44
Advocate Shamila Batohi (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Advocate Shamila Batohi (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Advocate Shamila Batohi, the final candidate to be interviewed for the position of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) on Friday, described the office of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) as a house on fire.

"The house is on fire," she told the panel headed by Energy Minister Jeff Radebe on Friday.

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. 

She also known for leading the prosecution of disgraced Proteas cricket captain Hansie Cronje at the King commission of inquiry.

During her interview on Friday afternoon, Batohi described the kind of leader that she believed should be the new NPA head.

Credibility of NPA

She told the panel that she believes that one of the measures of the NPA should be how much confidence the people of South Africa have in a national director.

She also acknowledged that when one becomes a manager it is a "terrifying prospect" but being a manager meant that one needs to "inspire people".

"To be a prosecutor you are the voice of the victims in court (and) being a prosecutor is just an incredible job," she said. 

"If we can ensure that the NPA has credibility and trust then I think we have come a long way."

READ: Jiba said 'we need to cut our losses' in famous 'Amigos' case - NDPP candidates tells panel

Batohi was also asked about her speeding fine which was withdrawn against her when she was KwaZulu-Natal director of public prosecutions. 

She told the panel that she made representations to the NDPP and agreed that the charges would be dropped but for some reason they were not dropped and appeared on the court roll.

Racism accusations

"Big lessons learnt," she replied.

Batohi also told the panel that she was once accused of being a racist by a staff member but "for me it is the past".

"If I am appointed NDPP those things don't matter anymore."

She said a facilitator was appointed to look into the relationship between herself and staff members who accused her of racism but the process was "very unsatisfactory". However, one of the recommendations from the facilitator was that she should attend anger management classes.

Following her interview, Minister Radebe explained the process that went behind shortlisting the 11 candidates that were interviewed. 

"We sat down for many hours evaluating 45 names and we came up with 12 that we believed could come to the final interview," he said. 

"We are looking for a capable person who will be able to ensure that he or she can fearlessly defend the Constitution so that when they take decisions to prosecute it is without favour and without prejudice.

"We will come up with a candidate that many South Africans will be proud of," he said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was given 90 days from August 13 to appoint a new NDPP following then NDPP Shaun Abrahams' exit.

The Constitutional Court declared Abrahams' appointment unconstitutional.

Read more on:    npa  |  shamila batohi  |  jeff radebe
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