The Pretoria high court has ordered that interviews of candidates shortlisted to be the next National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) must be open to journalists to attend, setting a precedent for transparency in the process.
Judge Johan Louw made the order late on Tuesday afternoon after hearing arguments from the Right2Know Campaign — a non-profit information advocacy group — and the Presidency.
Right2Know had filed an urgent application for at least 20 accredited journalists to be allowed to attend the interviews in the interests of transparency and public confidence in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the NDPP. It cited President Cyril Ramaphosa as a respondent.
The ruling has set a precedent and for the first time the NDPP interviews may be broadcast as they happen.
The interviews, which were scheduled to begin on Wednesday, have been postponed because the Presidency has said it will need to find a new venue to accommodate the ruling.
Judge Louw agreed with the arguments made by Right2Know and its legal team, including Advocate Ben Winks, saying Ramaphosa — who is responsible for appointing the NDPP — has not given reasons as to why the interviews are closed to journalists.
“The process should be open and transparent. It is of importance that confidence is restored in the office of the NDPP,” Louw said.
Advocate Gcina Malindi, who represented the president, argued that the interviews would include discussions on “sensitive” NPA investigations, which would necessitate closing them to the media.
Ultimately, Louw ruled in favour of Right2Know.
Ramaphosa has appointed a panel which is responsible for shortlisting candidates, interviewing them, and making recommendations as to who should be appointed to the position.
The 11 shortlisted candidates are:
1. Adv S Batohi
2. Adv K M Chauke
3. Adv J R De Kock
4. Adv A Johnson
5. Adv M Luphondo
6. Adv M Makhari
7. Adv N Manaka
8. Mr S X Mapoma
9. Adv C S Mlotshwa
10. Adv D M Noko
11. Adv M S Ramaite
Ramaphosa has a deadline to appoint former NDPP Shaun Abrahams’s successor by December 19 after the Constitutional Court declared his appointment invalid earlier this year.
Update: On Tuesday night, Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach pulled out from the race for the position of NDPP, the night before interviews for the position were expected to take place.