Batohi racism allegations ‘in the past’
WHILE the appointment of the first female National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) has been welcomed, advocate Shamila Batohi has had to answer questions about an old allegation of racism.
The allegations emerged during her interview last month, although she was adamant they were “in the past”.
During her interview, she told the panel that there was a group of staff members in the Pietermaritzburg office during her tenure as KZN DPP who were unhappy, but she did not know why she was accused of racism, as the allegations were not specific.
She said the incident was confined to the Pietermaritzburg office, and that she preferred not to go into it as it had the potential of opening up old wounds. “If I get into the position it is something that I would say ... it is in the past, let’s move forward. But I think it is important for me to explain to the panel the situation here because it seems to suggest that there was low morale,” she said in her interview.
“There was a time when staff members made allegations of racism against me. It was public. It was in the newspaper.
“People say things at a certain time and you’ve just got to let it go and as the new national director I will have to simply move forward and looking backward will only take an institution back. It doesn’t matter to me anymore.”
Batohi said the matter was never resolved and a facilitator tasked to look into it recommended that she attend anger management training. She told the panel she did not think she had problems controlling her anger and that the racism allegations were never put to her.
Batohi further said she did not have any problems with staff members of any race in the office. “I treated them all fairly,” she told the panel. “For me it was an absolute shock. I was absolutely horrified when those allegations were made.
“I still don’t understand what was going on because from what I understand, I empowered people who were previously disadvantaged in that particular office.”
Interviewed by The Witness on Tuesday, a Pietermaritzburg advocate who worked with Batohi when she was KZN DPP was enthusiastic about her and said it was during her tenure that black people were promoted to management positions.