Reports that NDPP, Advocate Shamila Batohi, has argued for ‘a fully independent NPA in law, finance and operations’ are taken up by Advocate Jacques du Preez, CEO of the FW de Klerk Foundation, who says it would be a ‘crucially’ positive development in SA’s constitutional democracy.

‘It would also serve to bolster SA’s commitment to the foundational value of the rule of law as set out in section one of the Constitution,’ he adds.

In his opinion piece on the Politicsweb site, Du Preez notes section 179(1)(a) of the Constitution states that the NDPP is appointed by the President.

Section 179(5), he says, makes it clear that the NDPP must determine – with the concurrence of the Cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice and after consulting the DPPs – prosecution policy. ‘This means – de jure and de facto – that the NDPP is unable to determine prosecution policy and/or decisions, ultimately, without final input from the Minister of Justice & Correctional Services.’

Du Preez asks: ‘Should the NDPP continue to be appointed by the President? Should the NDPP not be appointed in a similar fashion as judges and by an independent judicial body such as the JSC in terms of section 178 of the Constitution? Should the Department of Justice & Constitutional development enjoy oversight of the NPA? He notes a constitutional amendment might be required to ensure the NPA becomes more independent. Prosecutors, he says, play a crucial role in the administration of justice in any country.

‘They contribute to ensuring transparent accountability, fair legal as well as equitable criminal justice processes and the effective protection of citizens against crime. It is imperative that they vigorously protect the public interest and act with objectivity and integrity.’

Du Preez says in a country like SA – where there is rampant corruption, severe political abuse of power and blatant state capture – the need for a vibrant and independent prosecuting authority is even greater.

‘As such, any step to increase the independence of the NPA must be fully supported.’

Full analysis on the Politicsweb site