Zuma pens letter to Ramaphosa questioning integrity of NPA

The independence of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the integrity of the criminal justice system are once again on the line, as former president Jacob Zuma steps up his criticism of the prosecuting authority.

Zuma sent President Cyril Ramaphosa another letter requesting an investigation into serious allegations against the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi and her deputy Rodney De Kock.

Zuma’s request, in a letter dated Monday, focuses on the alleged violation of the NPA Act or the constitution. The probe could take the form of a commission of inquiry, and in the constitution, such powers fall within Ramaphosa’s ambit.

Just two years ago on August 19 2021, Zuma served Ramaphosa with the first set of allegations of serious misconduct, at that stage complaining about the alleged leak of his confidential medical information to a journalist by members of the prosecuting team in his criminal trial.

“From the look of things, you failed to take all the necessary and adequate steps to deal with the issues raised in the said letter,” Zuma said through his lawyers on Monday.

He attacked the NPA’s decision to issue a media statement in support of state advocate Billy Downer.

As if that was not enough, said Zuma, NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga also attended Downer’s first appearance and gave further statements outside the court. He also questioned why the NPA provided Downer with legal support.

He said one of the issues raised by Downer under oath and his NPA-sponsored counsel was that he had no title to prosecute but that was misleading.

“… The NPA was in possession of an opinion penned by its current legal representatives, stating, correctly so, that Zuma seemed to have the requisite interest,” he said, adding that the opinion had also not been disclosed to the court.

He also attacked the NPA’s decision to issue a statement supporting Ramaphosa’s view that he was not a co-accused in the Downer allegations. In the statement, De Kock “falsely” stated that Ramaphosa was not mentioned in the Downer docket.

He further alleged that De Kock was part of a scheme to conceal information from him; refuse to issue a certificate not to prosecute, misrepresent facts and the law; and unduly shield suspects.

The last straw, he said, was when he discovered that De Kock had received reliable information from a potential witness or whistleblower to the effect that a former NDPP was deeply concerned about Downer’s conduct.

Downer had, previously, allegedly leaked information obtained in the course of Zuma’s prosecution to another journalist, Sam Sole.

Zuma said he reasonably believed that Batohi knew all the above-mentioned illegal and criminal activities and that she was centrally involved in their planning or execution.

Under the NPA provision, Ramaphosa could suspend Batohi or De Kock without notice pending an investigation. In the event that the investigation determines the individual is not suitable for the position, they can be removed.

Ramaphosa may only make the decision based on proven misconduct, continued ill-health, incapacity to perform duties efficiently, or if the individual is no longer fit and proper to hold office.

Parliament should then be informed within 14 days of the decision to remove an office bearer from office. Parliament would also, within 30 days, review and assess the removal decision.

Parliament would also either approve or recommend restoring Batohi or De Kock.

Ultimately, it is up to parliament to decide whether the removal was justified, and the president must comply if so.


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