NPA boss Shamila Batohi blasts criminals, welcomes 650 law graduates

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 National director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi says prosecutors need to remember they are people’s lawyers. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla
National director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi says prosecutors need to remember they are people’s lawyers. Photo: Felix Dlangamandla


National director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi says those who are facing justice are now coming up with several excuses, including that the prosecution service is being weaponised.

The prosecution authority has for many years been accused of participating in political battles, with some saying it always appears to lean towards the sitting president, targeting those against the number one citizen.   

Batohi, who was speaking at the NPA head office in Pretoria during the graduation ceremony of law graduates on Thursday, said prosecutors needed to remember they were people’s lawyers.

At least 650 law graduates were absorbed into the prosecuting authority flagship programme, which formed a bigger recruitment strategy for the prosecution service.

She said: 

Our country is grappling with the scourge of corruption and gender-based violence. It relies on the NPA as the prosecutorial component within the criminal justice system to vigorously prosecute those most responsible for these crimes.

Batohi added those who feared justice the most were ramping up their attacks on the rule of law and driving the public narrative that prosecutions were being "weaponised" to discredit their political ambitions. She said:

In this context of political or grand corruption, exercising prosecutorial functions fearlessly and independently becomes of paramount necessity. Defending such independence requires that as prosecutors, we uphold the highest standards of integrity in all aspects of our lives and that we adhere to our code of conduct at all times. As you join the NPA, we expect prosecutors who are courageous and who will not compromise their professional independence for political expediency.

Batohi mentioned they expected prosecutors who would commit to ongoing learning and taking steps to improve their competencies, particularly as the nature of crime changes and more sophisticated and complex forms of organised crime emerge.

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“You must remember that prosecutors are powerful officials who determine, among other factors, whether to prosecute, whom to prosecute, and for which crimes. But, as the adage goes, with great power comes great responsibility and as the NPA, we will not hesitate in holding you accountable in terms of how you exercise your powers as prosecutors. So, always do the right thing for the right reasons,” she advised.

Batohi, who was joined by her deputies and minister of justice Ronald Lamola, added: "As prosecutors, we do not target individuals.

We seek justice and are guided by evidential material presented to us by law enforcement. In doing so, we are also guided by the NPA mandate, the NPA Act and the Constitution in our resolve to uphold the rule of law.

The NPA boss said their vision for the Aspirant Prosecutor Programme is to continue to recruit young people who would provide the NPA with the skills and capabilities necessary to discharge their mandate. The training includes skills on how to fight cybercrime, corruption, fraud and money laundering.

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