Silas Ramaite underwhelms at NDPP interviews

Acting national director of public prosecutions Silas Ramaite delivered a less than stellar performance during an interview for the top job at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Wednesday marked the first day of interviews at Union Buildings in Pretoria, where five candidates are scheduled to be interviewed. Ramaite — who was the first candidate to be interviewed by an advisory panel — has been at the NPA for at least 15 years.

He had to be asked on several occasions and by various panellists to answer questions put to him “directly”.

“You are not answering questions directly. We want to know what’s happening at the NPA, what’s your role,” Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, who is chairing the panel, chided Ramaite.

“You have deprived us from getting insights,” Auditor General Kimi Makwetu, also a panellist, said.

READ MORE: Breytenbach withdraws as Maimane calls for NPA head who is ‘above party politics’

Ramaite appeared unable to satisfy the panel as he was grilled on the NPA’s stability and actions he had taken in previous years during his long tenure at the NPA.

When asked if there had been any interference in prosecutorial decisions, Ramaite responded: “Not that I am personally aware.”

Radebe interjected at this point, saying Ramaite has a responsibility to know what happens in the NPA because he has been there “for many years”.

Ramaite credited the instability which has plagued the institution as being a result of former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Mxolisi Nxasana’s departure from the organisation. The role of NDPP is perceived as a tenuous position to hold: not one official appointed to the post has ever served the full 10-year term.

Ramaite and another candidate for the position — Advocate Siyabulela Mapoma — were asked about their independence and if it could be compromised. Both answered no. 

It appears, however, that the panel — in addressing concerns of interference raised in the case of former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and the Ginwala Commission of Inquiry — are focusing on issues of prosecutorial independence.

Mapoma, who has experience as a prosecutor, a magistrate, and hails from the corporate sector — but has not worked in the NPA for the past 10 years.

Mapoma was questioned on his experience — he has never appeared before the Constitutional Court and appeared once before the Supreme Court of Appeal as a junior advocate.

READ MORE: High court orders NDPP interviews open to media

He denied that the NPA is in a dire state, saying there are prosecutors who work hard and that only certain parts of the authority are facing issues of factionalism. Mapoma continued, saying perceptions the NPA is struggling are created primarily by media reports that have misled the public.

A total of eleven candidates have been shortlisted. The interviews continue at Union Buildings. 

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

Related stories

False dawn gives Ace all the cards

The unrepentant, recalcitrant ANC secretary general thinks it’s okay for his and other wayward comrades’ kids to loot

Eskom refers employees suspected of contracts graft for criminal investigations

The struggling power utility has updated Parliament on investigations into contracts where more than R4-billion was lost in overpayments

High court declares Dudu Myeni delinquent

Disgraced former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni has been declared a delinquent director by the...

Reining in the public protector

As well as its scathing findings on Mkhwebane’s investigation into Ramaphosa, the high court also made important in-principle pronouncements

Training the NPA’s next prosecutors

The aspirant prosecutors programme, on hold for years because of lack of funds, has started up again, creating a pool of future prosecutors

Budget 2020: Sympathy for Mboweni from opposition as Cosatu rattles sabers

Political parties want more details on SOE bailouts, wage cutbacks

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday