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Johannesburg - Newly appointed head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Mxolisi Nxasana, says he will not accede to any political pressure in performing his duties to prosecute without fear or favour.
Nxasana addressed the media for the first time since taking over one of the most controversial jobs in the crime and justice cluster, where all his predecessors have failed to finish their terms.
Nxasana said he has not yet applied his mind to the model which will work best in ensuring the independence of the NPA, but is clear about his constitutional mandate.
He assumes office at a time when confidence in the NPA is arguably at its lowest ebb, owing to, among other things, its handling of some high-profile cases, including the dropping of corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma and its fight with prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach over the possible prosecution of former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
But, according to Nxasana, he is protected by the constitution in ensuring he can pursue any criminal matter, even though the NPA’s budget is controlled by the director-general in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. He considers the head of the NPA to be the ultimate authority in terms of prosecutorial decisions.
“It might sometimes create a difficulty or perception that if the budget is controlled there (the ministry), the NPA might be swayed, or there might be political pressure.
“But, as I have told you, even if the status quo remains, I do not see any reason why I should be pressured politically when I have the constitutional mandate to prosecute without fear, favour or prejudice.
“In terms of the constitution and the NPA Act, I have those powers.
“Who controls the funds does not control the prosecutorial authority,” he said.
He confirmed that the NPA would appeal Judge John Murphy’s ruling to set aside the decision to withdraw charges against Mdluli, saying it would have serious consequences for the prosecuting authority if it was left unchallenged.
He said he would also apply his mind to the spy tape saga involving Zuma before making a decision on the way forward for the NPA.
The new prosecutions boss said he was worried about the public image of the NPA, but said most of it was caused by a few high-profile cases which overshadowed the good work done by prosecutors across the country’s courts.
Improving the image of the NPA is high among Nxasana’s priorities.