President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has received a shortlist of five candidates out of which SA’s new top prosecutor will be chosen.

The recommendation was made following three days of gruelling interviews in Pretoria by an advisory panel appointed by the president to make recommendations about suitable candidates who could take up the post of the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

The president has until December 19 to appoint a replacement for ousted NDPP Shaun Abrahams, whose appointment was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court.

The presidency said on Sunday the panel nominated Advocates Shamila Batohi,  Siyabulela Mapoma, Simphiwe Mlotshwa, Rodney de Kock and  Andrea Johnson for the post.

Batohi is currently a senior legal advisor at the International Criminal Court, but was formerly a director of public prosecutions (DPP) in KwaZulu-Natal. Batohi made it clear in the interview that taking up the position of NDPP would be akin to jumping into a shark tank, but that she was willing to take up the reins and lead the prosecutorial authority despite this.   

Mapoma is currently an advocate at the Bhisho Bar, while Mlotshwa is a former acting DPP in KwaZulu-Natal who acted in the position after Batohi left for the ICC. Mlotshwa detailed the attempted interference from the NPA’s national office in Pretoria on his prosecutorial decisions during his interview.

De Kock is currently the DPP in the Western Cape and was lauded for his work in the province, although questions were raised about how he would deal with the stark divisions in the NPA. Johnson is the deputy director of public prosecutions in Pretoria, and was subjected to a marathon interview of two hours and 45 minutes.

Johnson is a firebrand prosecutor who worked closely with Gerrie Nel on cases which led to the conviction of former police commissioner Jackie Selebi, and murderer and former Paralympian Oscar Pistorius.

The advisory panel interviewed 11 candidates out of which the shortlist was compiled.

Energy minister Jeff Radebe, who chaired the panel, said the nomination of five candidates reflected the confidence of the panel that the position of NDPP would be filled by a fit and proper national director and reflected the depth of leadership capacity and legal excellence in South Africa’s legal sector.

The presidency said Ramaphosa would study the recommendations of the panel and make an appointment within the timeline directed by the Constitutional Court.