SA’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment of Dr. Silas Ramaite as acting national director of public prosecutions may end before Ramaite even begins.
He will fill the role until Ramaphosa announces a permanent replacement for the job left vacant by Shaun Abrahams. Ramaite has been a deputy national director of public prosecutions since 2003.
In 2011, the Limpopo Mirror reported Ramaite had been arrested for drunken driving. The Zoutpansberger followed the initial report with more detail.
Between the two papers, the facts were apparently these: Ramaite was arrested near Levubu, Limpopo when he was alleged to have crashed his Jaguar into a Nissan 1400 bakkie.
The collision was confirmed at the time by then provincial spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Ronel Otto, who said Ramaite had been charged with reckless and negligent driving, as well as driving under the influence.
Ramaite’s case was postponed until September 2 for further investigation. The charges were subsequently provisionally withdrawn pending the results of the blood tests of both Ramaite and the Nissan driver.
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaka stated on Tuesday evening that senior public prosecutor Sanet Jacobson then declined to prosecute Ramaite.
Jacobson is based in Pretoria, according to Maka. The case happened in Limpopo.
No reasons for the dismissal were given, nor further information on when it happened, nor anything about what jurisdiction a local prosecutor would have had to decide a case outside her province.
In terms of the NPA Act, section 9 (1) (b) states any person to be appointed as national director, deputy national director or director must be a fit and proper person, with due regard to his or her experience, conscientiousness and integrity, to be entrusted with the responsibilities of the office concerned.
It’s not the first time Ramaite has held the position. In 2004, when he was appointed to the post by Thabo Mbeki, he “stood by the decision of his predecessor, Bulelani Ngcuka, not to prosecute [former president Jacob] Zuma on bribery allegations relating to the arms deal”.
“We made that decision as a collective in the NPA, and we stand by it,” he said.
This stands to put him at conflict with the current court action against Zuma, which the DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach did not miss following the appointment’s announcement yesterday.
Breytenbach, a former prosecutor with the NPA herself, was unimpressed.
“He has sat idly by while successive NDPPs and acting NDPPs, including Mokotedi Mpshe, Menzi Simelane, Nomgcobo Jiba and Shaun Abrahams, systematically destroyed the fabric of the NPA and South Africa’s criminal justice system. His track record proves that, at best, he is weak, vacillating and pliable.
“President Ramaphosa must urgently appoint a new permanent NDPP, and it is our belief that he should involve Parliament in the selection process.”
The ANC yesterday praised Ramaite’s selection by Ramaphosa, however.
“This prompt and resolute action will go some way in ensuring that the nation regains confidence in this institution that is extremely critical to the integrity, stability, and effectiveness of the criminal justice system,” the ruling party said in a statement.