LSSA welcomes transparent panel process for appointment of NDPP

November 1st, 2018

By Barbara Whittle

In October, the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) commended President Cyril Ramaphosa for setting up a panel of independent legal organisations to identify a suitable, fit and proper candidate for the position of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to succeed Shaun Abrahams who was removed from office earlier this year.

President Ramaphosa announced the panel on 14 October and tasked it to complete its work by recommending at least three candidates to enable him to meet the deadline set by the Constitutional Court to appoint a new NDPP within 90 court days of 13 August. The panel will be chaired by Minister Jeff Radebe and includes the chairpersons or their representatives of the General Council of the Bar, the LSSA, the Black Lawyers Association, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, Advocates for Transformation, the Auditor-General of South Africa and the South African Human Rights Commission.

The panel must identify potential candidates, establish that they meet the required criteria, conduct interviews and recommend three candidates to the President. The presidency pointed out that, while the panel will make recommendations, the Constitution prescribes that it is ultimately only the President who can decide who to appoint as NDPP. This the President will do after consultation with Justice Minister Michael Masutha.

LSSA Co-chairpersons Mvuzo Notyesi and Ettienne Barnard said in a press release: ‘The LSSA is honoured to form part of the panel and takes this duty very seriously. We regard this as a significant step in what will be a tough journey towards restoring public confidence in the prosecutorial services. In August this year we called for the process of appointing the new NDPP to be transparent and motivated by the candidate’s commitment to the Constitution, the independence of the prosecutorial institution and accountability to the public. We are confident that the transparent panel process introduced by the President will yield a new head for the National Prosecuting Authority who will tackle the instability in the institution head-on and bring independence, impartiality, accountability, stability and good governance to our prosecutorial services, which are at the heart of our criminal justice system and carry the expectations for justice of the victims of crime in our society.’

The LSSA’s nominee to the panel is LSSA council member Richard Scott.

Barbara Whittle, Communication Manager, Law Society of South Africa,

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2018 (Nov) DR 18.