Batohi’s tenacity lauded
New NDPP’S career marked by hard work, determination
ADVOCATE Shamila Batohi, the newly appointed national director of public prosecutions, was always destined for greatness, according to those who knew her before her appointment.
Her relatives, friends and colleagues agreed that she was more than capable of the task ahead of her. Her uncle, Vicky Batohi, remembered her fighting spirit even as a young girl.
“She was a great athlete. We would play table tennis at the family’s home. She would be the only girl in the game and always give the boys a tough time”, he said.
Batohi grew up in Clare Estate with her parents and three siblings. Her late father ran an upholstery business with his brothers, while her mother stayed at home.
She attended Burnwood Secondary school, where she is well remembered.
“She always topped the class,” said Vanesh Gokal, Batohi’s former schoolmate, and current Burnwood Secondary principal.
“The Batohi family were hard working and excelled at everything they did,” said Gokal.
He said when Batohi’s appointment was announced this week, he shared the news on the school’s Facebook page and sent messages to tell everyone that one of their own had reached a great milestone.
“She’s inspired girls in our school and has shown them that the possibilities are endless.”
He commended Batohi for returning to the school in 2016 to speak to the pupils at a thanksgiving ceremony.
“She is quick to help and show up when she is needed,” he said.
Those who worked with her in the legal fraternity commended her skill.
Durban High Court Judge Sharmaine Balton said Batohi was a disciplined woman with boundless energy.
“I met her during 1999 at the Durban High Court. She was courteous and an absolute pleasure to work with. Her confidence and hard work was evident in the manner in which she presented her cases as a prosecutor.”
“Personally, I am proud of her appointment and wish her all the best in the mammoth task that awaits her, which I am certain she will carry out to the best of her ability,” said Balton.
In a joint statement, co-chairpersons of the Law Society of South Africa, Ettienne Barnard and Mvuzo Notyesi, said they had confidence in her. “Batohi has the skill, conscientiousness, integrity and independence necessary to tackle the challenge of leading our prosecutorial services and to ensure a stable directorate that serves the public of South Africa professionally, effectively and fairly, and provides a proud mirror of our criminal justice system to the outside world,” they said.
Retired Judge Thumba Pillay remembered her as tenacious and well prepared.
“More than 20 years ago she prosecuted in a matter before me in the High Court in Durban. I found her to be thoroughly committed to the task before her, tenacious and well prepared.
“I am certain that she will acquit herself in the enormous task entrusted to her with courage, conviction and without fear or favour. Her appointment comes at a time when the institution has unfortunately lost all credibility. It is vital that she is given all the support she can get to restore this all important office which is a vital cog in a functioning democracy,” he said.
Batohi has promised to do just that. In her acceptance speech, she said: “We in the NPA have important work to do, which includes devoting our efforts to holding accountable those who have corrupted our institutions, who have betrayed the public good and the values of our constitution for private gain, especially those in the most privileged positions of government and corporate power.”
“The president and, by proxy, the people, have bestowed a lot of confidence in me. The least I can do is to reciprocate that confidence. My only obligation is to serve the country with humility and with dedication to the best of my ability,” she said.
Batohi will take up her position in February.
PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa congratulates Shamila Batohi this week on her appointment as national director of public prosecutions. Those who knew her before she became a public figure are proud of her success, they told reporters.