Court orders that media be allowed to attend NDPP interviews
Pretoria - Wednesday's interviews for the candidates for appointment as new national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) to replace Shaun Abrahams, will no longer proceed until the Presidency had found a new venue.
The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria late on Tuesday ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to hold the interview in the open and that the media was thus allowed to attend.
This groundbreaking ruling for transparency in our country, came on the eve of Ramaphosa's start of the interview process, which was due to start on Wednesday and expected to conclude on Friday.
Counsel acting for the president, however, said the present venue was too small and the interviews were on hold until a new venue was found.
Ramaposa indicated earlier this month that he and a panel of seven members of the criminal justice system will conduct the interviews of the 12 candidates behind closed doors.
The Right2Know (R2K) Campaign turned to the court to obtain an urgent order to allow the media access to the proceedings.
It argued that the president declared that the interviews had to be completely closed to the public, which was contradictory to an open and transparent society.
Advocate Ben Winks told Judge Johan Louw that while the process of choosing an NDPP was never open in the past, history had taught us that it should be a transparent process. He referred to the fact that two NDPP’s appointments were set aside in the past because of irregularities. Winks asked the court to direct the president to leave the interviews open to the public, through the media, as the public had a right to know. Winks said every single citizen had an interest and was affected in some way by who was chosen to this top position.
He said that they are not requesting a blanket opening of the proceedings, but it should not be conducted under a blanket of secrecy.
Winks said there should be a balance and whenever the president and his panel felt that sensitive information was being discussed, the media can be asked to leave the room.
Judge Johan Louw agreed that the process should be open and transparent, especially given the history of appoint a NDPP.