Advocate Matodzi Rachel Makhari during the interviews for the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) at the Union Building. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - The Chief Prosecutor in the North West province, Advocate Matodzi Rachel Makhari on Wednesday told the advisory panel on the appointment of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) that she was the fit and proper candidate for the top post. 

One of the panellists, Advocate Jaap Cilliers SC asked Makhari that without any high courts experience, how she would be able to manage people who are more experienced and have handled matters in the superior courts.

"All I want to ask you is, seeing that the more important and serious cases are dealt with in the high court, you will obviously be dealing with people that may have more experience than yourself in that field -- do you see that creating any problem for you?" Cilliers asked Makhari during the interview inside the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Makhari said she did not view her lack of high court experience as a problem.

"I don't find it as a challenge at all, because [with] complicated, high profile cases in most cases you find that it's teamwork involved not just one person dealing with the matter. In actual fact, if I look back at the previous NDPPs who have also driven the process where high profile cases where prosecuted, you see that they didn't have the same kind of experience," Makhari explained.

"The most important issue, the role of the NDPP regarding that is to identify the right people to deal with the particular case. Somebody might be specialising in cyber [crimes] for example, but not with racketeering, so both prosecutors despite being experienced, they are experienced in different fields."

Makhari said on her circuit, she does her work without fear or favour, earning herself the nickname "Dragon Lady".

"When you are a great leader, you influence those who are below you and those above you. The impact I have done in our division, it's felt not only in my cluster but in other clusters. Every time when we have functions or meetings relating to performance, they ways give me a platform to talk to prosecutors --including the DPP [director of public prosecutions] office -- on issues relating to leadership. That shows they are acknowledging, they realise that this person has what it takes," she said.

"With all due respect and humility, not everybody occupying the higher positions is a leader. That's the skill we are not having in South Africa, because we are recycling people. It's like we are afraid of a change, thinking if I take somebody down there, despite the person demonstrating the skills, it's like we are afraid of that change. That's why we remain in that cycle."

Lutendo Sigogo of the Black Lawyers Society, who is also a panellist asked whether there were people who felt owed by Makhari and would seek to advance their interests if she landed the top post, compromising her independence.

Makhari responded: "I don't have people I think will try to influence me. What I have demonstrated by my way of living is that it's not easy, you will not find it easy to influence me for something that is wrong. I cannot do that".

The panel, chaired by Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, was requested to identify potential candidates; establish that they meet the required criteria; conduct interviews with potential candidates; and recommend at least three candidates to the president.

The NDPP position became vacant in August when the Constitutional Court declared the appointment of the then NDPP Shaun Abrahams invalid.

African News Agency (ANA)