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South Africa’s Prosecution Boss Resigns

FILE-Police make an arrest at the scene of a robbery in Pretoria South Africa, June 2006
FILE-Police make an arrest at the scene of a robbery in Pretoria South Africa, June 2006

The head of South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority, Advocate Hermione Cronje, unexpectedly resigned from the state’s anti-corruption body after serving half of her five-year term.

While no official statement about Cronje's departure has been issued, observers speculate it was caused by frustrations over the limited resources given the NPA along with pressure from politicians to prosecute some cases and ignore others.

Cronje, appointed in May 2019, has overseen several high-profile criminal cases, including massive corruption cases related to South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma, and his allies in the African National Congress.

Retired Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, JJ duToit said "We’re lawyers, not politicians, but unfortunately we also work in a political environment," adding "You must resist any political pressure on you to make a decision either to prosecute, or not to prosecute.”

The NPA's National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Shamila Batohi, stated there was “nothing sinister” about Cronje’s resignation and that the NPA is well equipped to produce conducive results.

“To be clear, the NPA is not in a crisis, and there’s no widespread sabotage of the Investigating Directorate. Advocate Cronje’s resignation is a culmination of various factors, and I am not going into the details of this,” she said.

Batohi added, “It’s a tough job, in a tough environment. So, it should not be a surprise or a concern that after this period she’s decided to move on."