Ba­tohi racism al­le­ga­tions ‘in the past’

The Witness - - NEWS -

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.

— News24.

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