National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi has vowed to return the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to an institution that South Africans can be proud of once again.
Delivering her keynote address at the sixth annual Kader Asmal lecture in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Wednesday, Batohi said South Africans wanted an institution that was not influenced by political or illicit gain.
"I know people want to see criminals in orange overalls. What they don't realise is that it will happen but when we do it, we need to do it right."
Batohi said the patience of some South Africans was running thin. "People don't want to hear me talk, they want to see action. Part of the strategy is not to talk too much but speak when we have something to say."
Batohi took office in February after being selected through a transparent public process.
She said she often lamented to her staff that nothing seemed to have changed at the NPA since she left 10 years ago.
Batohi added before she had accepted the position, she met with President Cyril Ramaphosa and insisted on an "unequivocal" commitment from the president of her independence as well as the NPA's.
"It's a commitment I will not waver from enforcing at any cost.
"Public confidence in the government and criminal justice institutions is at a dangerously low level, and we have a very small window of opportunity to turn this situation around before all credibility is lost.
"It is clear that corruption disables the ability of our government to deliver basic services and, in doing so, violates the human rights of the most vulnerable of our citizens," said Batohi.
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