Senior prosecutor Advocate Andrea Johnson. Screengrab

Pretoria - The first candidate to face Minister Jeff Radebe's eight-member advisory panel on the National Director of Public Prosecutions appointment (NDPP) on Thursday, senior prosecutor Advocate Andrea Johnson insisted the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is wounded but not paralysed to do its work.

"As I sit here, today, for an interview for the position of national director, the NPA out there is not at a standstill. It is not paralysed. I have junior colleagues who are currently in court doing cases and doing them well," Johnson told the panel at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. 

"I have colleagues who are appearing at the SCA [Supreme Court of Appeal] and in the high court. I just want to clarify, we are not paralysed but we have had serious instability and at times we have been quite chaotic.

"If I say we are paralysed, I do not give credit to the men and women who work up every single day, regardless of what NPA top management is doing, and do the work."

Johnson was co-prosecutor with then celebrated NPA prosecutor Advocate Gerrie Nel in the Oscar Pistorius trial. Gerrie has since left the NPA.

Another high profile case the Johnson and Nel team prosecuted was the corruption matter involving former national police commissioner, Jackie Selebi.

On Thursday, Johnson told the panel that while being flexible, if appointed to the NDPP job, she wants NPA staff to live by higher standards, even on time management, arriving at the office on time and dressing accordingly.

She pitched herself as a good listener, with significant people management skills and expertise.

"Perhaps this is where most directors fail - the ability to listen. Don't hear, listen. You listen to everybody, stakeholders from within and without. Have the ability not just to speak, but to listen. Understand what is being conveyed. Distinguish between the wheat and the chaff, then deal with the issues at hand," said Johnson.

"Being loud doesn't make you effective. Being arrogant does not make you an effective national director [of public prosecutions]. Being humble, hearing what people have to say, are the qualities one requires. People must not think humility is being a pushover.

"Don't think for a second I'm not strong. I am. There is a way we communicate and convey. Being firm doesn't mean I need to be arrogant. If there are two qualities I cannot take ... it's rudeness and arrogance."

Four candidates for the top NPA job, including Johnson, have been lined up for the interviews on Thursday. 

The other three are: Advocate Rodney de Kock - the director of public prosecutions in the Western Cape, Advocate Moipone Noko - Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal and former magistrate-turned-advocate Naomi Manaka.

The Democratic Alliance's Advocate Glynnis Bteytenbach was on the list of people to be interviewed for the top post on Thursday, but she has since announced that she's pulling out of the race.

African News Agency/ANA