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Batohi has to rise to the occasion


Batohi walks into a very hot seat. She has a long, steep road ahead

SOUTH AFRICA - Pretoria 04/12/2018. Shamila Batohi after being named by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings as the new head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency/ANA

SHAMILA Batohi, SA’s first female National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), has one of the toughest jobs in the public service.

For years, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has been plagued by political manipulation, divisions and infighting, which have led to erosion of the institution’s credibility and mandate.

The deliberate weakening of the NPA, especially in the last 10 years, has resulted in an overall weakening of the criminal justice system. This has led to the institutionalisation of rampant corruption, for the perpetrators among us know that they will not be successfully prosecuted and jailed.

State capture, which is at the centre of our political discourse and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s main focus, is a direct product of a weakened NPA and the SA Police Service.

Batohi walks into a very hot seat. She has a long, steep road ahead.

The allegations levelled at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture will be her litmus test. Chilling evidence has been submitted at the commission about how deep the state capture project runs. All eyes will be on Batohi and her counterparts in the SAPS to ensure convictions of those behind the crimes in state capture.

Batohi also finds a deeply divided organisation, due to factional political battles from as far back as the ANC elective conference in Polokwane in 2007.

The case against former president Jacob Zuma – who is pushing for a permanent stay of prosecution – damaged the NPA.

Crucially, Batohi is an important player in Ramaphosa’s efforts of cleaning government and clamping down on corruption, which has become a cancer in the country’s body politic.

Political interference and manipulation have been at the heart of the weakening of the NPA, resulting in the office of the NDPP being a revolving door, with previous incumbents removed before their terms end.

Batohi has a duty to rise to the occasion and deliver on her promises: “We in the NPA have important work to do which includes devoting our efforts to holding accountable those who have corrupted our institutions (and) who have betrayed the public good and the values of our Constitution for private gain, especially those in the most privileged positions of government and corporate power.”