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News > World

South Africa Appoints First Woman Chief Prosecutor

  • Shamila Batohi, South Africa's first woman chief prosecutor

    Shamila Batohi, South Africa's first woman chief prosecutor | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 December 2018

Ramaphosa has appointed Shamila Batohi, a woman with an extensive trajectory, including prosecutions chief in KwaZulu province and senior adviser to the ICC, to national chief prosecutor.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Government picked Shamila Batohi, the first woman in history, to become South Africa’s new chief prosecutor. "As we address matters that South Africans are most concerned about such as state capture, corruption and widespread crime our country needs a National Prosecuting Authority that is above reproach," Ramaphosa said.

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Batohi’s reputation as a former prosecutions chief in the KwaZulu province, a senior adviser prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a Nelson Mandela-appointee to investigate apartheid-period dead squads, precedes her as being “highly experienced.”

The appointment of the new chief prosecutor is seen, by some analysts, as a move by Ramaphosa to distance himself from Zuma’s scandal-tainted image and reinforces his campaign promise to fight corruption.

The president has been accused, by some members of the opposition, of protecting former President Jacob Zuma against being prosecuted for involvement in acts of corruption related to a 1990s arms deal.

Ramaphosa’s previous chief prosecutor, Shaun Abrahams, earned a reputation for carrying out the head of state's bidding, in protecting Zuma. However, at the end of his term, Abrahams reinstated graft charges against Zuma.

Batohi’s appointment also speaks to the increasing trend of women in South African politics, since the end of the apartheid. This is the work of policy changes as well as several organizations working to promote women’s rights, according to Priya Pitamber, from Brand South Africa. Before 1992, women only had a 2.7 percent representation in parliament.

“Current women ministers comprise 41% of the cabinet, women deputy ministers make up 47% of the total number of deputy ministers and there is a 41% representation of women in the National Assembly,” according to data presented by the government in 2015.

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