Cape Town - There were mixed reactions on Tuesday, after the appointment of Silas Ramaite as South Africa's acting prosecutions boss.
President Cyril Ramphosa announced Ramaite will temporarily take over the reins of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) after the Constitutional Court on Monday upheld a high court ruling declaring Shaun Abrahams appointment invalid. Ramaphosa was given 90 days to appoint a permanent NPA head.
The Democratic Alliance's (DA) Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach said that Ramaphosa's choice of acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) did not "bode well for restoring the independence of the NPA".
Breytenbach said that Ramaite has in the past sat idly by while successive NDPP’s and Acting NDPP’s, including Mokotedi Mpshe, Menzi Simelane, Nomgcobo Jiba and Shaun Abrahams "systematically destroyed the fabric" of the NPA and South Africa’s criminal justice system.
"His track record proves that, at best, he is weak, vacillating and pliable. President Ramaphosa must urgently appoint a new permanent NDPP, and it is our belief that he should involve Parliament in the selection process," Breytenbach said.
Ramaite has been a deputy national director of public prosecutions since 2003.
Breytenbach said that under the ruling African National Congress (ANC) the NPA and other key institutions charged with combating priority crimes were reduced to "mere puppets who serve at the pleasure of the ANC mafia".
"Over the past decade, they have often been tasked with carrying out political hits rather than being allowed to carry out investigations and prosecutions without fear or favour," she said.
"The NPA has been the plaything of the executive for far too long. Dr Ramaite’s appointment does nothing to correct that."
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services Chairperson, Dr Mathole Motshekga, welcomed the announcement and said the speed with which Ramaphosa acted to make the appointment was commendable.
“This is clearly what was needed: a fast response to ensure stability and integrity to a critical institution,” Motshekga said.
Motshekga expressed confidence in Ramaite’s ability to head the NPA.
“He holds several law degrees. He is a career prosecutor. This is also not the first time he finds himself acting in the position, which makes him familiar with the role.”
The ANC earlier also welcomed the appointment of Ramaite.
"This prompt and resolute action will go some way in ensuring that the nation regains confidence in this institution that is extremely critical to the integrity, stability and effectiveness of the criminal justice system," the ANC said in a statement.
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