By Thato Mahlangu

Two new executive appointments at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will bring stability to the organisation.

Tasked with fighting crime and corruption and prosecuting those found guilty, the NPA has been heavily criticised by the public and civil society organisations, with media reports suggesting that it is taking its time, especially with high-profile cases. Some of these cases have featured prominently in the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, also known as the Zondo Commission of Inquiry or Zondo Commission.

Even though the commission has been in session for the past two years, few prosecutions and arrests have been made. The resulting criticism has created challenges, including in the public relations sphere, as some members of the public have expressed their concerns over the NPA’s slow pace in dealing with these cases.

National director of public prosecutions Advocate Shamila Batohi said on Monday, 1 June 2020, that she welcomes the appointment of advocates Rodney de Kock and Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba. Their appointments will “mark an important step in the new trajectory of the NPA.”

De Kock and Rabaji-Rasethaba are the new deputy national directors of public prosecutions (DNDPP). He will be responsible for the national prosecutions service, while she will oversee the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU).

Experienced and distinguished appointees

Advocate De Kock is said to be one of South Africa’s most experienced prosecutors and has been acting DNDPP since January 2020, according to the NPA.

The NPA said De Kock previously served as director of public prosecutions (DPP) for the Western Cape where he led the division with distinction since his appointment in November 2003. Before that, he was in private practice for many years. He has an LLB from the University of Cape Town and was admitted as an advocate of the High Court in April 1999.

“His extensive skills and experience as a DPP will strengthen the leadership and response at the national level,” said the NPA.

Rabaji-Rasebatha’s legal qualifications include an LLM from the University of Pretoria. She makes a return to the NPA after having previously served as the special director at the AFU in its early days, working on the development of best practices and jurisprudence in asset recovery and related legislation.

“Asset forfeiture and recovery is a key part of any effective response against rampant corruption, and crucial in making a difference to the lives of ordinary South Africans,” said the prosecuting authority.

In addition to her experience in the NPA, she is also a governance and risk expert, having worked in the corporate sector for 10 years. She also served as judge at the Gauteng Consumer Affairs Court.

Stability and vital skills, says CW

“Corruption Watch welcomes these appointments as they should provide both stability to the NPA’s leadership team as well as vital skills to fulfil the NPA’s important mandate,” said Karam Singh, the organisation’s head of legal and investigations.

Singh said Rabaji-Rasethaba’s appointment in particular, given her background with the AFU, should play an important role in ensuring the work of asset recovery continues to be a key component in the NPA’s anti-corruption armoury.

“Both Rabaji-Rasethaba and De Kock are well experienced and their appointments must be cautiously welcomed,” he said.

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