Silas Ramaite at an NPA committee meeting in Cape Town, October 2014. Picture: BUSINESS DAY/ TREVOR SAMSON
Silas Ramaite at an NPA committee meeting in Cape Town, October 2014. Picture: BUSINESS DAY/ TREVOR SAMSON

Acting National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Silas Ramaite says the instability at the organisation arose out of “different cultures” at various times.

He also said, in an interview for the post of the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP), that there was a “challenge” in the NPA when he was appointed to act in the position, but claims it has improved since he took over the reins. 

Ramaite was appointed to lead the NPA in an acting capacity for the third time in 15 years in August after the Constitutional Court ordered former NDPP Shaun Abrahams to vacate the post earlier this year.

He was the first of 11 candidates vying for the post to be interviewed on Wednesday. The interviews are being conducted by an advisory panel appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, that must furnish him with a shortlist of names by December 7, out of which the president will appoint a permanent NDPP.

Ramaite, who has served as deputy director of the NPA for 15 years and first acted as NPA boss after Bulelani Ngcuka resigned in 2004, appeared to frustrate the panel by not answering with a direct answers. When asked what has contributed to the instability in the NPA, Ramaite answered, the ‘‘different cultures’’ under each new NPA boss.

Panel member Mvuzo Notyesi, who is co-chair of the Law Society of SA, told Ramaite that he was placing himself outside of that culture in the way he was answering the question, yet Ramaite himself was a leader in the NPA.   

Ramaite then said the exit of former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana, who left the post after he took a now unlawful golden handshake, created that instability. Abrahams was appointed in the post thereafter.

Advocate Jaap Cilliers SC asked Ramaite if he saw “any problems” between staff in the NPA; Ramaite responded, “At the moment I am not aware [of any]”.

Ramaite said he was over-ruled in terms of some decisions taken by the authority, when he had disagreed with them. He did, however, not indicate which decisions. When pushed for more details, he said in most of those instances he warned the NPA would have judgments against it. ‘‘I accepted the other view. I agreed to disagree,’’ he said. 

Two others interviews were also concluded by the time the panel broke for lunch, with both advocates Siyabulela Mapoma and Matodzi Makhari, who is a chief prosecutor in the North West but has yet to argue in a high court, fielding questions from the panel. 

Interviews are scheduled to run until Friday.