Statement on the appointment of the National Director of Public Prosecutions

Minister of Energy, Mr Jeff Radebe,
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Adv Michael Masutha,
Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele,
Members of the NDPP Advisory Panel,
Members of the media,
Fellow South Africans, 

Today, I am announcing the appointment of a new National Director of Public Prosecutions. 

This follows the order of the Constitutional Court on 13 August 2018 that the President appoint an NDPP within 90 days. 

In making this order, the Court highlighted the severe challenges that have confronted the National Prosecuting Authority in recent years, including leadership instability and a decline in public confidence in the institution.

Among other things, the Court said: 

“The rule of law dictates that the office of the NDPP be cleansed of all the ills that have plagued it for the past few years.” 

The court was concerned about the dysfunctionality of the NPA when it said: 

“With a malleable, corrupt or dysfunctional prosecuting authority, many criminals – especially those holding positions of influence – will rarely, if ever, answer for their criminal deeds… 

“If you subvert the criminal justice system, you subvert the rule of law and constitutional democracy itself.”

In appointing a new NDPP, we are addressing the state of dysfunctionality and deficiencies in the NPA that were identified by the court. 

The National Director of Public Prosecutions occupies a vital position in our democracy, and makes an essential contribution to upholding the rule of law and ensuring the efficiency and integrity of law enforcement. 

At this moment in our history, as we address matters that South Africans are most concerned about – such as state capture, corruption and widespread crime – our country needs a National Prosecuting Authority that is above reproach in the performance of its mandate and that enjoys the confidence of the public. 

The NDPP must ensure that the National Prosecuting Authority exercises its functions without fear, favour or prejudice and should not be beholden to any vested interests, whether in politics, in business or elsewhere. 

The NDPP needs to be able to take decisions independently and impartially. 

In appointing the new NDPP, I decided to depart from previous practice. 

While recognising that the Constitution requires that the NDPP is appointed by the President as head of the national executive, I sought the assistance of a panel of individuals from the legal fraternity and Chapter 9 institutions in recommending suitable candidates. 

The members of the panel were Minister Jeff Radebe, as chairperson, and Auditor-General Kimi Makwethu, South African Human Rights Commission Chairperson Bongani Majola, Jaap Cilliers from the General Council of the Bar of South Africa, Richard Scott from the Law Society, Lutendo Sigogo from the Black Lawyers Association, Lawrence Manye from the Advocates for Transformation and Mvuzo Nyotesi from the National Association of Democratic Lawyers. 

Following a process of nominations, shortlisting and interviews that were open to the media, the advisory panel proposed five candidates for the NDPP position. 

After consideration of their recommendations, I have decided, in terms of section 179 of the Constitution, to appoint Adv Shamila Batohi as the new National Director of Public Prosecutions. 

I am confident that Adv Batohi possesses all the attributes of a capable NDPP. 

Throughout her extensive and distinguished career, and in the course of the selection process, she has shown herself to be a fit and proper person. 

She started her public service as a junior prosecutor in the Chatsworth magistrates’ court in 1986 and steadily rose through the ranks to become the Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu Natal. 

She was seconded to the Investigation Task Unit established by President Nelson Mandela in 1995 and later served as the first regional head of the Directorate of Special Operations based in KwaZulu-Natal. 

For much of the last decade, she has served as a Senior Legal Advisor to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. 

As the NPA Act requires, she has the experience, conscientiousness and integrity to be entrusted with the responsibilities of this office. 

Despite the many challenges the NPA has faced in the past, we know that there are women and men of great ability, experience and commitment within the NPA who are dedicated to doing their job and doing it well. 

It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the conditions exist for them to effectively serve the cause of justice and to meet the great expectations that the South African people have of them. 

As this administration, we stand ready to provide whatever assistance necessary to the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that it is able to fulfil its constitutional mandate without let or hindrance, fear or favour.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the members of the advisory panel for the diligence and care with which they undertook their task, and to thank Minister Radebe for chairing the panel. 

I also wish thank all the candidates who made themselves available for appointment to this important position. 

I wish Adv Batohi and the entire leadership and staff of the National Prosecuting Authority well in the work that lies ahead. 

Advocate Batohi will commence her duties in February 2019 after serving her notice as Senior Legal Advisor at the ICC.

It is now my pleasure to call on Adv Batohi to make a few remarks. 

I thank you.

Issued by the Presidency

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