Top UN lawyer, ex-Scorpion among senior NPA appointments announced by Ramaphosa

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National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi with Hermione Cronje. (Gallo Images, Phill Magakoe)
National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi with Hermione Cronje. (Gallo Images, Phill Magakoe)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed top-UN lawyer advocate Anton du Plessis as one of the National Prosecuting Authority's four deputy national directors of public prosecution - and filled three other senior vacancies on Thursday.

In a statement, Ramaphosa said the appointments reiterated his commitment to rebuild the leadership of the embattled institution with a team of diverse, representative and world-class experts.

"These appointments are essential for the efficient functioning and rebuilding of the NPA as part of the fight against serious crime, including sexual and gender-based crimes and corruption, and as a contribution to deepening the capability of the state."

Besides Du Plessis, Ramaphosa also appointed advocates Lebogang Baloyi as Special Director of Public Prosecutions: Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU), Bonnie Currie-Gamwo as Special Director of Public Prosecutions: Sexual Offences and Community Affairs Unit (SOCA), and Priya Biseswar as Special Director of Public Prosecutions: Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU). 

This meant that advocate Shamila Batohi, the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP), had now filled all the most senior positions at the NPA with her preferred candidates.

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Although the appointments were made by Ramaphosa in terms of the NPA Act, it was done on the advice of the NDPP and with the concurrence of Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.

When they assume office, it would mark the first time Batohi will be surrounded by a full complement of senior leaders.

Du Plessis - who must still serve a notice period at the UN - works for the Security Council's counter-terrorism committee executive directorate where he "leads the UN's work on the legal and criminal justice elements of the Security Council's response to terrorism", according to the presidency.

He is also a former senior state prosecutor who led the development and implementation of specialised sexual offences courts as well as Thuthuzela Care Centres.

"He is a globally recognised criminal justice, serious crime and rule of law legal expert, with over 20 years of management and operational experience in the field. He has worked on criminal justice and security sector reform in dozens of African countries and has researched and written on prosecution reform and has presented papers at leading African and international conferences on the issue," the presidency said.

Du Plessis would be in charge of NPA strategy, operations and internal compliance.

The appointment of heads of the SCCU, SOCA and AFU also meant three of the NPA's most important units would be able to return to stability and efficiency.

Baloyi has more than 20 years' experience and previously worked for the now defunct Scorpions, where she worked as an investigator and prosecutor. Currie-Gamwo has 22 years' experience and is a former deputy director of provincial prosecutions in the Western Cape, while Biseswar (with 23 years' experience) has been acting head of the AFU for the past 10 months.

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