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‘NPA under pressure, not in crisis’: Batohi after Cronje resignation

06 December 2021 - 13:30
National Director of Public Prosecutions advocate Shamila Batohi says she 'understand SA’s impatience with the slow movement of prosecutions'. File photo.
National Director of Public Prosecutions advocate Shamila Batohi says she 'understand SA’s impatience with the slow movement of prosecutions'. File photo.
Image: ALON SKUY

National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) advocate Shamila Batohi says while the institution remains under considerable pressure to perform, it is “not in a crisis”. 

Her sentiments follow the resignation of advocate Hermione Cronje as head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Investigating Directorate (ID).

Batohi poured cold water on speculation the resignation was due to strained interpersonal relations. 

“The incorrect narrative in the media that it is because of interpersonal relations between her and I makes for dramatic reporting, and that’s where it ends. 

“It is important to note that in a high pressure and high-stakes environment, occasional tensions and disagreements are normal. The ID was and remains under considerable pressure to perform,” she said.

Batohi and senior leadership in the institution addressed the media about issues on Monday. Cronje was not present. She is expected to leave the directorate in March.   

The institution has been under pressure to deliver and has been criticised for a lack of high-profile corruption convictions. Batohi said she accepted citizens’ patience was running thin.

“I can fully understand SA’s impatience with the slow movement of prosecutions, but we have to remember where the ID started. It started at zero.”

Batohi shot down allegations there had been prosecutors within the organisation hell-bent on delaying cases. A number of high-ranking officials have been implicated in evidence presented before the state capture inquiry.

“The NPA is not in a crisis and there is no widespread sabotage in the ID or any part of the NPA. We’ve come through a difficult period and there are internal processes that are looking at different aspects.

“Advocate Cronje’s resignation and exco’s decision to approve it is the culmination of different factors,” she said.   

Ramaphosa appointed Cronje in May 2019 to expedite the investigation and prosecution of state capture cases. The ID, established in March the same year, was dubbed the “new Scorpions”.

Batohi would not be drawn to answer questions about ongoing cases, including that of suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.   

She admitted the NPA did not have sufficient skills to prosecute grand corruption and said this was something the institution sought to address within the next six months to a year.

“Addressing corruption is a sprint, not a marathon. The taps of corruption and rent-seeking are certainly being closed.”

Responding to questions about the directorate’s shortcomings, Batohi said she was of the view they tried to do too much with too few resources.

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