Shamila Batohi looks the favourite for NDPP post

President Cyril Ramaphosa said to prefer ICC adviser

18 November 2018 - 00:05 By QAANITAH HUNTER
National director of public prosecutions candidate Shamila Batohi after her interview at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
National director of public prosecutions candidate Shamila Batohi after her interview at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
Image: Alaister Russell

Advocate Shamila Batohi, the prosecutor famous for grilling late cricketer Hansie Cronje, is emerging as the frontrunner for the position of national director of public prosecutions (NDPP).

President Cyril Ramaphosa is said to be leaning towards Batohi, who is legal adviser at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

She is edging ahead after an eight-member panel led by minister Jeff Radebe interviewed 11 shortlisted candidates for the position this week. After the interviews on Friday, the panel deliberated and came up with five prospective names out of which Ramaphosa must make his pick.

The Sunday Times has reliably been told that Batohi "checked all the boxes" for the post and is likely to be Ramaphosa's choice.

Batohi made it clear to the panel in her televised interview that she was "quite comfortable" with her life in The Hague. But, she said, fixing the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) required all hands on deck, which is why she was prepared to "put aside our personal comforts" and say "consider me".

"We brought justice to victims on an individual basis; now the entire country is almost like a victim and we need to actually work together," Batohi said.

She described the NPA as a house on fire and said the NDPP position would be like a shark tank.

But questions have been raised about allegations of racism made against her more than a decade ago, when she was director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal.

She denied the accusations and said she has learnt a lot about how to manage people since then. Batohi also disclosed that she once got a traffic fine for speeding.

One of Batohi's deputies when she was director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, Simphiwe Mlotshwa, spoke glowingly of how she managed her departure from the NPA to take up the post at the ICC in 2009.

Mlotshwa acted in her place after her departure and is also being considered for the position of NDPP.

He told the interview panel that while he was acting in place of Batohi, he was pressured to withdraw charges in the so-called Amigos case in which two MECs were implicated. He said he was removed as acting director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, and the charges were then withdrawn by the current director, Moipone Noko.

Noko made the shortlist, but was not recommended as a candidate for the NDPP position.

In their deliberations, some panel members leant towards Siyabulela Mapoma, who told them he was "very independent".

State prosecutor Andrea Johnson seemed to have left an impact on the public who watched the televised interviews. A clip of her bemoaning the all-male interview panel in Zulu went viral on social media.

Johnson, part of the prosecution team against the late police commissioner Jackie Selebi, said if she were appointed NDPP there would be a major shake-up at the NPA.

The fifth name submitted to Ramaphosa is the director of public prosecutions in the Western Cape, Rodney de Kock. He told the panel that there was instability in the NPA and he believed in leading by example.

The five candidates are expected to undergo vetting by the State Security Agency.