Even the Pope couldn't solve the NPA's problems, says prosecutor

Advocate Andrea Johnson.
Advocate Andrea Johnson.
Image: Screengrab

The problems plaguing the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would not be solved "even if the Pope was appointed as the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP)".

This is according to senior prosecutor, advocate Andrea Johnson, who was interviewed on Thursday by the eight-member panel tasked with finding the new NDPP.

Johnson said a new NDPP alone would not fix the problems at the prosecuting authority.

"The place as it is now will chew the Pope up and spit him out alive ... that’s how bad the situation is," she said.

Johnson was the first up on the second day of interviews. She spoke about instability in the organisation but denied an assertion that the NPA was paralysed.

"We didn’t need other people to interfere ...  our management did it very nicely,” Johnson said tongue-in-cheek.

She acknowledged that there was factionalism in the NPA and said at times the top managers “did as they pleased”, with some decisions not legally sound.

Johnson, who was part of a number of high-profile cases including the Oscar Pistorius trial, faced tough questions about her role in the prosecution of the former police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

The national police commissioner from 2000-2009 was charged with corruption, fraud and racketeering and found guilty in 2010.  Convicted drug dealer Glenn Agliotti testified for the state, saying he had paid Selebi more than R1.2m in bribes since 2000. In return, Selebi had protected Agliotti’s friends and shared confidential police documents with him.

On Thursday, the chair of the interviewing panel, Jeff Radebe, a former minister of justice, planning in the presidency and now holding the energy portfolio — asked her why despite the involvement of so many people in the Selebi matter, only he was prosecuted and convicted.

Advocate Muvoso Notyesi asked the same questions, saying Johnson was interested in prosecuting “the big fish” and allowed other accused to walk free.

Johnson argued that Agliotti had been facing a charge of murder in connection with the 2005 death of mining magnate Brett Kebble but before they could start with the prosecution, the prosecution team was removed, resulting in an acquittal.

Interviews will continue Thursday and on Friday. The panel has until December 7 to make their recommendations to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

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