Ba­tohi’s tenac­ity lauded

New NDPP’S ca­reer marked by hard work, de­ter­mi­na­tion

Sunday Tribune - - METRO - SIPHELELE BUTHELEZI, KARINDA JAGMOHAN and KWANDOKUHLE NJOLI GCIS See pages 11 and 18

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.

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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.

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