Advocate Andrea Johnson shortly after her interview yesterday for the position of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - The factional fights over the prosecution of former president Jacob Zuma and those close to him were only happening in the office of the national director of public prosecutions under axed Shaun Abrahams.

This was the increasing majority view of some of the 11 candidates who have applied to become the new NDPP following the axing of Abrahams in August last year, a decision endorsed by the Supreme Court of Appeal this year.

Both courts instructed President Cyril Ramaphosa to undertake a public process to appoint a fit and credible person to take up the post.

Since Wednesday, various candidates appeared before the panel chaired by Jeff Radebe - Minister of Energy - which would advise Ramaphosa on the suitable candidate.

On Thursday another woman candidate and North Gauteng director of public prosecutions, advocate Andrea Johnson, hailed Ramaphosa for his decision to hold public interviews for the positions.

In her view, Ramaphosa’s decision was proof that he and Justice Minister Michael Masutha have strong respect for “the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority”.

She said under Zuma there was no respect for the independence of the NPA. She told the panel Zuma had instructed the withdrawal of charges against those linked to the murder of businessman Brett Kebble in 2007.

She also said Zuma instructed the then national director of public prosecutions, Menzi Simelane, to withdraw criminal charges against an “NIA official”.

According to advocate Johnson, both decisions left a bitter taste in her mouth. She told the panel that those decisions were made while the government at the time were determined to do away with the Scorpions, which she was part of.

“The factional fights are at the headquarters. Prosecutors in the provisional divisions and lower courts are continuing with their jobs. I personally don’t let instability stop my core function, which is to prosecute,” Johnson said.

She said she was not privy to the inner details of the crisis at the NPA offices in Pretoria but was convinced that there was political meddling in some of the criminal prosecutions which were undertaken during the tenure of Abrahams.

“There was political meddling. In this case, advocate Abrahams visits Luthuli House and the next day there was an announcement of the prosecution of Pravin Gordhan. It is political meddling,” she said.

On Tuesday, advocate Matodzi Makhari, of North West, made the same observations. Advocate Makhari said in 1998 when the NPA was founded, several of them were proud to be known and accepted as prosecutors, but things changed drastically after 2009. The interviews continue.

Political Bureau