President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon announcing Ramaite as acting National Prosecuting Authority boss, following the Constitutional Court ruling on Monday.
The court found that the appointment of Abrahams was invalid because his predecessor, Mxolisi Nxasana, was wrongfully removed by then president Jacob Zuma. The court ruled that Nxasana must pay back R10million that Zuma had paid him to vacate the post.
A senior advocate, who worked as a senior prosecutor until 2016, said he had confidence that Ramaite would “sail the ship”.
However, the advocate said there was “nothing to write home about” in the appointment of an acting NDPP, as Ramaite was not likely to have the power to make major de- cisions.
“As far as I know, Ramaite does not have any prospects of becoming the new NDPP, because of his age.
“If you look at the NPA Act, at the age of 67 one must throw in the towel. That is compulsory. If I am not mistaken he was going to retire this year,” said the advocate.
Ramaite had previously acted in the position when Bulelani Ngcuka resigned in 2004 and before Abrahams permanently replaced Nxasana.
Ramaite was in trouble with the law following his arrest in 2011 for allegedly crashing his luxury Jaguar into a Nissan bakkie in Limpopo.
The Louis Trichardt Magistrate’s Court released him on R1000 bail, but charges of reckless and negligent driving and driving under the influence were later withdrawn, pending blood test results.
Following the court ruling on Monday, the president promised the nation that he would appoint a person to act in the position the following day.
Ramaphosa’s office did not say much about Ramaite when it announced his appointment yesterday.
A statement from the Presidency said on Monday: “While the president is studying the judgment, he is committed to appointing a permanent NDPP well within the 90 days prescribed by the Constitutional Court for such an appointment to be made.”
Ramaite has been the deputy NDPP since 2003, responsible for administration and the Office for Witness Protection.
He holds a string of qualifications, including a BProc from the University of Fort Hare; LLB; LLM in public international law; and LLD, specialising in constitutional law, from Unisa.
He was admitted as an advocate of the Supreme Court in 1988, and in 2001 he was granted the status of senior counsel.
In 1997 Ramaite was the chief evidence leader for the Goldstone Commission, which investigated allegations presented to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The Presidency said Ramaphosa believed that the Constitutional Court judgment had set the NPA on “a path that will restore the integrity of the authority and build the nation’s confidence in the criminal justice system”.
Another advocate, who asked not to be named, said: “If you are acting you cannot do anything groundbreaking.
“The NPA is measured on the conviction rate, the finalisation rate, the withdrawal rate and the backlog rate in the courts,” he pointed out.