Sunday Tribune - - PEOPLE - DEN­NIS PATHER den­[email protected]

AT first glance, ad­vo­cate Shamila Ba­tohi might come across as del­i­cately pe­tite, al­most frag­ile, but don’t be fooled – ap­pear­ances can be ter­ri­bly de­cep­tive.

Hav­ing met the new Na­tional Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions so­cially on sev­eral oc­ca­sions, I can as­sure you the lady’s no pushover– she’s a smart cookie who gives as good as she gets.

If you have any doubts, ask those le­gal ea­gles who faced up to her bounc­ers at the King Com­mis­sion prob­ing match-fix­ing al­le­ga­tions against for­mer Proteas cricket cap­tain Han­sie Cronje in 2000.

But, I’ll be the first to ad­mit, a game of bat, ball and bails is far less chal­leng­ing than hav­ing to sur­vive in an NPA snake pit where none of her pre­de­ces­sors have man­aged to serve a full term be­cause of in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal tur­bu­lence.

I’m cer­tainly not qual­i­fied to of­fer Shamila any pro­fes­sional ad­vice about her new job, but hav­ing ac­cu­mu­lated many ca­reer miles over many decades, I’ll pass on a few tips based my own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences.

It’s all quite heady im­me­di­ately af­ter the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment, Shamila, when the pres­i­dent,

Cab­i­net min­is­ters, pro­fes­sional col­leagues and friends flock around and you’re at the cen­tre of an orgy of

Out­side the walls of the NPA, you’ll prob­a­bly hear many dogs bark­ing. They are bark­ing out of fear

con­grat­u­la­tions and back-slap­ping.

Later, how­ever, the eu­pho­ria will sub­side and re­al­ity will set in – you’re in the hot seat. The plane’s in flight and you’re the pi­lot.

A whole gamut of daunt­ing chal­lenges lie ahead.

Af­ter cosy­ing up to the pres­i­dent and promis­ing your undy­ing loy­alty to the coun­try and your com­mit­ment to con­vict the crooks, your im­me­di­ate task is build­ing the con­fi­dence of the staff around you.

Af­ter all, you’ll want them work­ing with and not against you, so I’m en­cour­aged that you’ve as­sured all prose­cu­tors in the NPA of your full sup­port – as long as they dis­charge their du­ties and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties with in­tegrity.

Don’t for a mo­ment un­der­es­ti­mate the enor­mous­ness of your task. There are peo­ple out there who would like to see you fail. These are the scum­bags who have cor­rupted our in­sti­tu­tions and be­trayed the val­ues of our con­sti­tu­tion.

Out­side the walls of the NPA, you’ll prob­a­bly hear many dogs bark­ing. Don’t be put off. They are bark­ing out of fear that you will do your job prop­erly and put them be­hind bars.

I’m en­cour­aged Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa thinks you’re the best per­son to turn the NPA around. But to en­able you and your team to get the job done, you’re go­ing to need more than ex­pres­sions of sup­port.

For you to act with in­tegrity and with­out fear or favour to ad­dress the paralysis and de­fi­cien­cies in the NPA, you are go­ing to need the time and space to strate­gise a new vi­sion.

You will need the free­dom to build a team of highly qual­i­fied and ca­pa­ble sup­port staff and suf­fi­cient fi­nan­cial re­sources to win the war against cor­rup­tion and crime.

Give it your best shot, Shamila. The vast ma­jor­ity of democ­ra­cylov­ing South Africans are be­hind you.

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