NEW NDPP WELCOMED
THE appointment of respected advocate Shamila Batohi as the national director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) was widely welcomed on Tuesday.
The efforts of the Right2Know campaign in applying to the courts to make the interview process of short-listed candidates public, paid off and as citizens we got to watch the interviews and see the candidates’ responses to the tough questions asked. Judge Johan Louw agreed with the arguments made by Right2Know and its legal team, saying it was of importance that confidence is restored in the office of the NDPP. And that’s the crux of this all.
Batohi has been out of the country for nine years, working as an adviser at the International Criminal Court. Some believe this counts in her favour, while others fear it will mean she’s out of touch with the inner workings and politics of the National Prosecuting Authority.
In the prelude to her appointment, she went up against people who have been in the trenches of the NPA and who are intimately familiar with the challenges the institution faces. They know the strange dynamics, unholy alliances and inherent weaknesses that have come to plague the South African criminal justice system, which in recent years was effectively reduced to an institution with its integrity in tatters.
While her long absence means she may not be familiar with the intricacies of the agendas at play, it could also mean that she sees things with a fresh perspective, objectively. She is not known to have any strong political links and this neutrality could be her strongest asset.
South Africans are understandably wary of the speeches made by top off icials who as new brooms promise to sweep clean. They’ve seen weak leadership and the politics of patronage make a mockery of systems that are supposed to be there to protect clean governance. If Batohi can truly be an agent for change and won’t cave in to whatever agendas arise, maybe we can start to have hope in the NPA again. With state capture needing to be dealt with decisively, it’s certainly the right time.