Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - The ANC has slammed EFF leader Julius Malema for criticising the new National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi and describing her as a puppet.

This comes after Malema accused Batohi of being controlled by a grouping that is close to ANC national executive committee member and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Addressing the party's election manifesto launch on Saturday in Soshanguve, Malema said Batohi was chosen to head the NPA to protect Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa. “I have no trust in the new NPA head. She is very close to Pravin Gordhan. She's controlled by a group that is very close to Gordhan. They appointed her to protect the crimes of Pravin Gordhan and the cabal that is aligned with him and Cyril Ramaphosa,” Malema said.

Batohi took over the reins of the embattled National Prosecuting Authority on Friday after she was appointed in December by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

ANC national spokesperson Dakota Legoete accused Malema and the EFF of hypocrisy, adding that Batohi's appointment was above board. “The attack on the new NDPP by the EFF is very unfortunate and must be dismissed. Batohi was appointed after a selection process which was public and open to the media for all to see and the EFF welcomed her appointment. We do not know they have a problem with her now,” Legoete said.

Legoete said Batohi was a good fit for her new top job, where she will be tasked with bringing stability to the prosecuting body following scandals of internal fighting, political manipulation and allegations of criminality against senior officials.

“The allegations that she is close to a group that is aligned to Pravin in the ANC are unfounded. We as the ANC welcome her appointment and we hope that she will work to restore the integrity of the NPA and ensure that all those who are found to have transgressed the law are held accountable.

“Batohi is an experienced prosecutor who has worked extensively within the NPA and made her mark internationally at the International Criminal Court. Any attempt to attack her integrity is unfortunate,” he said.

ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu also took to social media, accusing Malema and the EFF of fearing to be prosecuted by the NPA under Batohi.

“What motivated Julius Malema's unprovoked, unprecedented and unprincipled attack on the new NDPP head? Does the looting of VBS by EFF and fear of prosecution explain this arrogance and total stupidity on his part ?”

Political Bureau