Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Dr Silas Ramaite. Picture: npa.gov.za

Pretoria - Acting National Prosecuting Authority boss, Advocate Silas Ramaite was repeatedly urged to respond to questions directly when he was interviewed on Wednesday for the substantive National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) job he is vying for, against other candidates.

"The problem, Advocate, you are not answering questions directly. That is the frustration that this panel is having. You are being asked direct questions, you are being very philosophical referring to the House of Lords ... When we are here in South Africa we want to know what's happening at NPA. What's your road, if you are appointed as the NDPP," chairperson of the advisory panel, Minister Jeff Radebe intervened as Ramaite was taking a question from panellist Advocate Lawrence Manye.

"I have not heard you on these matters. For example, Advocate Manye says in 2015 you were acting director of public prosecutions. I had expected you to say during the time, these are the decisions that I took."

Ramaite told the panel that there had been no adverse judgements against him.

At one point, another panellist, Auditor-General Thembekile Kimi Makwetu, remarked that Ramaite had deprived the panel of the opportunity to get insight into the NPA.

Another panellist, Advocate Jaap Cilliers said Ramaite's answers were concerning. 

"Dr Ramaite, I'm a bit concerned with your answers. I would appreciate it if you answer in more practical terms. It seems to me you agree that at present, the NPA is in a crisis. Would you agree to that?" Cilliers asked the acting NDPP.

Ramaite, however, disagreed.

"As we speak now, no. Not as we speak now. At the time that I was asked to act, there was certainly a big challenge. Especially at head office level. If you look at what is currently happening now, in the offices of the directors of public prosecutions, there has been a lot of improvement in terms of the work that is currently being done," he said.

Cilliers went on. "Are you saying at this stage, the message that you have, as the acting NDPP since August, there is no concern from the public or the president [Cyril Ramaphosa] relating to the office of the NPA? 

Ramaite said as far as he knows, "there shouldn't be any concern".

Cilliers asked Ramaite if he knew of any problems linked to relations within the NPA which were crippling the organisation. 

Ramaite responded: "At the moment I am not aware of any such. Neither has such been brought to my attention."

The interviews, in search of South Africa's top prosecutor, are set to run for three days, until Friday.

The panel, chaired by 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.

African News Agency (ANA)