Yesterday the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) won its urgent application in the North Gauteng High Court to allow media coverage of the interviews of the shortlisted candidates for the post of national director of public prosecutions (NDPP). The application was urgent because the interviews begin today.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had opposed the opening of NDPP interviews to the media, arguing that there is a tight schedule to be followed if the NDPP is to be appointed by 19 December, as ordered by the Constitutional Court, and having to make new arrangements might cause delays. He also – somewhat  disingenuously – noted that as the Constitution does not prescribe the specific way in which the fitness of an NDPP candidate may be assessed, he decided to hold the interviews behind closed doors.

However, the court saw things differently and Judge JW Louw agreed that the process should be open and transparent, adding that public confidence in the office of the NDPP and the National Prosecuting Authority must be restored.

Louw also said that the president had not given reasons why the interview process should be closed to the public and the media. R2K’s win means that 20 accredited media will be allowed to attend the interviews and report on them via print and digital platforms.

The last time an NDPP was appointed, in June 2015, it was done suddenly and opaquely. President Jacob Zuma announced the appointment of former NDPP Shaun Abrahams with immediate effect. Abrahams, a senior state advocate at the time, replaced Mxolisi Nxasana, who resigned in May 2015. One of Abrahams’ first moves was to support the decision to discontinue the prosecution of Nomgcobo Jiba.

In August this year the Constitutional Court ruled that Abrahams’ appointment was invalid.

Interviews begin at once

Shortlisted NDPP candidates will be interviewed at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, from Wednesday 14 November 2018, by an advisory panel led by energy minister Jeff Radebe. The interviews will close on Friday 16 November.

Advocate Ben Winks, counsel for R2K, told the High Court that a precedent had been set by the open interview process for the position of public protector, which took place in Parliament in 2016. Corruption Watch played a vital role in the transparency of this process through its Bua Mzansi campaign, which fought for public participation in this appointment.

Meanwhile, one of the original 12 shortlisted candidates, Adv Glynnis Breytenbach announced yesterday that she would withdraw her candidacy.

The remaining candidates are:

  • Advocate Shamila Batohi, evidence leader during the King Commission’s 2000 inquiry into cricket match-fixing;
  • Andrea Johnson, co-prosecutor for the state in the trial of convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius;
  • South Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions Andrew Chauke;
  • KwaZulu-Natal Director of Public Prosecutions Moipone Noko;
  • Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions Rodney de Kock;
  • Pietermaritzburg advocate Simphiwe Mlotshwa;
  • Advocate Naomi Manaka, a former magistrate;
  • Advocate Silas Ramaite, current acting NDPP;
  • Advocate Matodzi Makhari;
  • Advocate Siyabulela Xhanti Mapoma; and
  • Advocate Matric Luphondo.

Advocates Ramaite, Mapoma, Makhari, Luphondo and Chauke are to be interviewed today.

• Image: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp