Shamila Batohi to set up specialised team to take on state capture crimes
On her first day of work, the new national director of public prosecutions said that under her watch‚ the NPA's independence would be keenly protected
The new national director of public prosecutions (NDPP)‚ Shamila Batohi‚ is to immediately set up a specialised, multidisciplinary team to prosecute revelations of state capture.
On her first day of work on Friday‚ Batohi said she spoke to justice and correctional services minister Michael Masutha, and they have agreed that a specialised team with investigative capabilities be established.
She also said that under her watch‚ the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would be fiercely protected and if its independence is transgressed‚ she is willing to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
“The allegations [of state capture] are unprecedented in terms of scope‚ nature and complexity of corruption‚" Batohi said. "It requires highly specialised well funded entity to be able to deal with this.”
She was announced as NDPP in December by President Cyril Ramaphosa after a thorough interviewing and shortlisting process.
Batohi‚ a former legal adviser at the International Criminal Court‚ said the NPA is facing serious challenges of instability‚ inefficiency and divisions.
“I know everyone out there is hungry for justice. You have every right to be‚" she said. “Serious allegations have emerged‚ some old and some new‚ but all damaging if found to have any basis in facts.”
Two senior officials at the NPA‚ Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi‚ have been subjected to an inquiry into their fitness to hold office.
The Mokgoro inquiry heard this week how the pair spied on the NPA and gave information to politicians.
“The NPA is under a lot of pressure. It requires a very specific response to these issues‚” Batohi said.
She also used her first media engagement to issue a stern rebuke to criminals.
"Perpetrators of crime and corruption within the state and private sector‚ regardless of who you are‚ where you are‚ how rich you are‚ your days of acting with impunity are numbered‚” she said.
The new NPA boss said she was ready to work with the Zondo commission investigating state capture as well as the head of the Special Investigating Unit.
“What is emerging is distressing in the extreme and will receive immediate attention from me and my team‚” Batohi said.
Besides evidence of corruption‚ the Zondo commission has also heard how top prosecutors in the NPA were bribed in exchange for information.