Pretoria - Lawson Naidoo, an executive secretary for the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), has told the Mokgoro Inquiry that the state's prosecutors were not paid to be popular or be loved.
The integrity of prosecutors must be beyond reproach and they should act without fear, favour or prejudice, he said.
Naidoo was making his submission on Wednesday about what constituted being fit and proper when serving in the office of the National Prosecutions Authority (NPA).
Naidoo said Casac had been involved in various issues relating to the NPA over the years.
The Mokgoro Inquiry was instituted by president Cyril Ramaphosa to look into the fitness to hold office of suspended Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba, and her colleague, Special Director of Public Prosecutions, Lawrence Mrwebi.
Jiba and Mrwebi have been criticised for their handling of several high profile and controversial cases, including the decision to withdraw charges against the former head of crime intelligence, Richard Mdluli. It has been alleged the pair withdrew the charges to protect Mdluli from prosecution.
Jiba has also been accused of fraud and perjury for attempting to secure the conviction of former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss, John Booysen. This was allegedly done to prevent several politically-connected and high profile individuals from prosecution.
Naidoo told the panel that the NDPP or its deputies should not be in the business of seeking public popularity or being loved, but needed to do what was right.
He said public perceptions could not be ignored when choosing someone to lead the NPA.
"Sometimes one needs to go against the grain in order to do the right thing. That is the kind of strength that is required to resist pressure. One needs to take the public into confidence regarding why certain decisions were taken."
The inquiry continues on Thursday. Freedom under Law is expected to make submissions.
African News Agency (ANA)