Advocate Shamila Batohi is the new national director of public prosecutions (NDPP).
Batohi was chosen, after careful consideration, from a final list of five. “I accept with gratitude and my only obligation is to serve the country with dedication and humility,” she said.”The NPA will serve the Constitution and the people of South Africa.”
“As the NPA Act requires, she has the experience, conscientiousness and integrity to be entrusted with the responsibilities of this office,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa, making the announcement. He added that the new NDPP needs to make decisions independently and impartially, without fear or favour.
Batohi will start her duties in February 2019, after serving out her term at the International Criminal Court, where she works as a senior legal advisor to the prosecutor.
The other four candidates were:
- Adv Siyabulela Mapoma
- Adv Simphiwe Mlotshwa
- Adv Rodney de Kock
- Adv Andrea Johnson
The five were selected from 11 candidates who were interviewed – in the presence of media – at the Union Buildings in Pretoria from Wednesday 14 November 2018 to Friday 16 November.
In August this year the Constitutional Court confirmed the invalidity of former NDPP Shaun Abrahams. Corruption Watch, Freedom Under Law and later, the Council for Advancement of the South African Constitution, had challenged – successfully – the legality of the termination of Abrahams’ predecessor Mxolisi Nxasana’s appointment and afterwards, a golden handshake of R17.3-million, in the High Court. In December 2017 the Pretoria High Court handed down judgment that the settlement agreement that led to Nxasana’s removal was indeed unlawful and that the termination of Nxasana’s appointment was invalid and set aside. Furthermore, it confirmed that the subsequent appointment by former president Jacob Zuma of Adv Shaun Abrahams as head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was also invalid and therefore set aside.
In February this year, Abrahams and the NPA appealed to the Constitutional Court against the order invalidating Abrahams’ appointment
In the ConCourt on 13 August, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga held that the manner in which Nxasana vacated office was not consistent with the Constitution. In that case, Madlanga said, it follows that the subsequent appointment of Shaun Abrahams was also constitutionally invalid.
Looking for a new NDPP
In October 2018 Ramaphosa invited a number of legal organisations and independent public institutions to help him identify and select individuals for consideration as possible candidates for the position of NDPP. This invitation formed part of his effort to meet the deadline set by the Constitutional Court to appoint a new NDPP within 90 court days of 13 August.
The organisations and institutions invited to assist the president in this endeavour nominated senior legal practitioners to serve on the panel headed by energy minister Jeff Radebe.
The panel comprised:
- Mr Thembekile Kim Makwethu (Auditor-General of South Africa);
- Advocate Bongani Majola (South African Human Rights Commission);
- Adv Jaap Cilliers (General Council of the Bar of South Africa);
- Mr Richard Scott (Law Society of South Africa);
- Mr Lutendo Sigogo (Black Lawyers Association);
- Mr Lawrence Manye (Advocates for Transformation), and
- Mr Mvuzi Nyotesi (National Association of Democratic Lawyers).
Radebe said the nomination of five candidates reflected the confidence of the panel that the position of NDPP would be filled by a fit and proper national director and reflected the depth of leadership capacity and legal excellence in South Africa’s legal sector.