President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced key appointments in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), which will be important role-players in attending to what some have described as South Africa’s biggest “pandemics” – gender-based violence (GBV) and corruption.
“These appointments are essential for the efficient functioning and rebuilding of the NPA as part of the fight against serious crime, including sexual and gender-based crimes and corruption, and as a contribution to deepening the capability of the state,” the Presidency said on Thursday, 14 January 2021.
The new appointments were made following consultations with Justice minister Ronald Lamola and NPA head Advocate Shamila Batohi.
The appointments include: Advocate Anton du Plessis as Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions: Strategy, Operations and Compliance; Advocate Lebogang Dineo Baloyi as Special Director of Public Prosecutions: Specialised Commercial Crime Unit; Advocate Bonnie Currie-Gamwo as Special Director of Public Prosecutions: Sexual Offences and Community Affairs Unit and Advocate Priya Biseswar as Special Director of Public Prosecutions: Asset Forfeiture Unit.
“These appointments align with the President and National Director for Public Prosecutions (NDPP) commitment to building the leadership of the NPA with a diverse and representative team of world-class and trusted experts that reflects the transformation and gender empowerment imperatives of government and the legal sector in South Africa. The appointment of three internal female leaders is particularly important in this regard,”
GBV and Corruption – a huge task ahead for the NPA
The NPA appointments also come months after Batohi expressed concern over resources (or lack thereof) to help follow through criminal cases, including GBV and corruption, which have both been considered key areas of focus for the authorities.
Police Minister Bheki Cele has come under heavy criticism from South Africans and women’s rights groups for his failure to adequately address the scourge of GBV in the last year, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown. However Cele has said that one of his top priorities for 2021 is further spearheading the fight against GBV.
Cele has also bemoaned lenient jail terms being handed to offenders, something he said they would be looking into, particularly with the aim of closing loopholes which essentially aid GBV perpetrators.
The NPA said it has managed to make strides in the country’s ferocious corruption fight and in light of 2020 having been a busy year for the Hawks (several high-profile arrests related to corruption, including ANC secretary general Ace Magashule), it is hopeful that more people will be brought to book.