The national director of public prosecutions, advocate Shamila Batohi, has lifted the lid on the mess she inherited at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), revealing that she even struggled to find colleagues she could trust.
In an interview on Friday, an impassioned Batohi said she had underestimated the extent of decay at the prosecuting authority.
Batohi, who was hired by President Cyril Ramaphosa from the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, in December last year, said she was left stunned by some of the decisions taken by her predecessors.
“I found an NPA where the leadership failed the NPA and the people of SA,” she said.
The NPA has had seven national directors in the past decade alone. The leadership instability weakened the organisation as state capture ravaged the criminal justice system.
Batohi said the situation at the NPA made it difficult to identify reliable people she could appoint to key senior positions to help rehabilitate the institution.
“That’s the thing, who do I trust? Even in the NPA it’s difficult,” said Batohi, who previously served as provincial NPA head in KwaZulu-Natal. She said she was left with no choice but to overturn questionable decisions related to certain high-profile cases of corruption.
Batohi cited the Bosasa case, saying it revealed “trends” in NPA decisions not to pursue certain matters.
“Things people were doing … how do I put it? It was just … it left some questions,” she said.
Batohi, who said “corruption has reached endemic levels”, said she would be lobbying the incoming justice minister to allocate more financial and other resources to the NPA.
“If the NPA doesn’t receive the resources needed, [it will be] failing our country,” she said.
Batohi this week introduced one of her most important appointments yet, tasking advocate Hermione Cronje with heading the NPA’s “Scorpions-like” investigative directorate. Cronje and Batohi worked together at the NPA in the early 2000s.
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Source: Sunday Times