Sunday Tribune - - PEOPLE - AYANDA MD­LULI

THIS week Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa ap­pointed Shamila Ba­tohi as the new Na­tional Direc­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (NDPP).

For years, South Africa has needed an NDPP who will grab the bull by the horns and pros­e­cute with­out fear or favour.

The Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity has been in the head­lines for all the wrong rea­sons with the pre­vi­ous direc­tor, Shaun Abra­hams, of­ten ac­cused of shield­ing for­mer Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, who is now fac­ing a num­ber of cor­rup­tion charges.

Many have viewed the NPA as be­ing on the brink of col­lapse, as the in­sti­tu­tion faces a myr­iad of chal­lenges such as a back­log in cases that need to be pros­e­cuted as a re­sult of a short­age of staff.

The ques­tion now is: who is Bo­tahi and does she have what it takes to clean up the mess at the head of the NPA?

Ba­tohi, who hails from Durban and re­ceived her ed­u­ca­tion at for­mer Univer­sity of Durban Westville and Natal Univer­sity, is no stranger to lead­er­ship in a le­gal fra­ter­nity that is largely male dom­i­nated.

Her claim to fame came when she led the King Com­mis­sion of In­quiry into cricket match-fix­ing when Han­sie Cronjé was the cap­tain of the Proteas.

Her fear­less­ness, feisti­ness and no-non­sense ap­proach in up­hold­ing the rule of law saw for­mer Pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela ap­point her to be part of a high-level team that in­ves­ti­gated ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to apartheid-era hit squads, where many who fought against past in­jus­tices lost their lives.

In the face of wide­spread cor­rup­tion in many facets of gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor, South Africa is at a precipice where the cor­rupt and the cor­rupter alike need to be held ac­count­able.

The of­fice of the NPA has seen a sharp de­cline in pub­lic con­fi­dence over the years, and the onus is on Ba­tohi to bring peace to the heart and minds of a largely frus­trated South African pop­u­lace where those close to political and eco­nomic power con­tinue to run amok. Ba­tohi brings prin­ci­pled lead­er­ship and was ap­pointed as the first black fe­male head of the DPP in KZN where she served with dis­tinc­tion.

She has a mam­moth task on her hands as she takes over an of­fice that sorely needs to be cleansed from all the ills that have plagued it over the last few years, to­wards the end of Zuma’s pres­i­dency.

In ap­point­ing her in her new po­si­tion, Ram­phosa said: “The NDPP in our coun­try oc­cu­pies a vi­tal po­si­tion in democ­racy, and makes an es­sen­tial con­tri­bu­tion in up­hold­ing the rule of law and en­sur­ing the in­tegrity of law en­force­ment.”

Cur­rently, South Africa is grap­pling with a vol­ume of chal­lenges, where too many politi­cians who have graced our na­tional dis­course are im­pli­cated, in one way or the other, of be­ing in­volved in State Cap­ture as ac­cu­sa­tions of wide­spread crim­i­nal­ity and fin­ger point­ing punc­tu­ate the big­gest political scan­dal to rock our na­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Ran­maphosa: “Our coun­try needs an NPA that is above re­proach in per­for­mance of its man­date. The NDPP must ensure that it ex­er­cises its func­tions with­out fear, favour or prej­u­dice and must not be be­holden to any vested in­ter­est in pol­i­tics or busi­ness.”

Her time spent abroad in the ICC can be viewed as a pos­i­tive fac­tor to ensure that the head of the NPA is some­one who will be able to take de­ci­sions in­de­pen­dently and im­par­tially.

Speak­ing on her ap­point­ment as the new head of the NPA, Ba­tohi said she aimed to serve the coun­try with hu­mil­ity and ded­i­ca­tion. She high­lighted that she was ready to make the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice to ensure that jus­tice pre­vailed in a time where a black woman’s in­tu­ition was needed in the pur­suit of equal­ity and jus­tice to ensure a fair so­ci­ety.

“South Africans have be­stowed a lot of con­fi­dence in me, and I need to re­cip­ro­cate that con­fi­dence. I will strive to serve with the best in­ter­est of our so­ci­ety at heart. Our chal­lenges have al­ways ex­isted and will con­tinue to ex­ist. Your NDPP stands with you and to­gether, we stand for jus­tice, and the na­tion,” she said

SHAMILA Ba­tohi af­ter be­ing named by Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Build­ings as the new head of the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA). |

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