The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is facing another controversy following the appointment of Shaun Abrahams’ legal adviser to a new post apparently created just for him.
City Press has learnt that Marco Voller, whom angry prosecutors say is a university friend of the national director, has been appointed as a permanent deputy of one of Abrahams’ four deputy directors, Dr Silas Ramaite, this week.
Sources within the prosecuting authority say the position of deputy to Ramaite, who is the deputy national director responsible for administration, did not exist before Voller was appointed to it. They charge that the position was created to ensure Voller had a job should Abrahams lose his, if the Constitutional Court upholds a ruling by the High Court in Pretoria that Abrahams’ appointment was invalid.
Judgment was reserved. A Constitutional Court date has not been announced yet.
Unhappy prosecutors told City Press this week that when Voller was appointed a week after Abrahams, in July 2015, he had “zero background in prosecutions, which has been the requirement for legal advisers all along”.
“We just got to the office one day and there was this guy; no proper recruitment process from the word go,” said a senior NPA source.
“Now, realising that his job might be on the line and therefore his friend will also be vulnerable if he has to leave office and if a new national director of public prosecutions [NDPP] is appointed, now [Voller] has been seconded to Dr Ramaite’s office, who is the deputy national director of public prosecutions responsible for administration.”
Other NPA insiders said although Voller’s appointment was still being finalised this week, he was announced as Ramaite’s deputy to the administration staff.
“They say he is going to be the deputy to Dr R and assist with administration issues. This is a man who has no background in administration, especially in the public service. He is a level 13 employee, a public service appointment, but now there is an expectation that chief directors, who are level 14, must report to this level 13 guy,” said another.
“What does the director-general have to say about this, as this is against public service prescripts?”
Justice department spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga declined to comment and referred questions to the NPA.
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said Voller was a “highly qualified employee” who had 15 years’ experience as an attorney. He said there was a post for him after the retirement of another legal adviser.
“It is incorrect that Mr Voller is being transferred. He remains in the office of the NDPP as a legal adviser but has been assigned additional responsibilities in the office of the head of administration to review corporate governance procedures and processes as relates to internal policies, contracts and procurement,” he said.
Mfaku said the assignment was in line with enhanced initiatives to improve good governance and optimal utilisation of resources.
“Voller’s position is not aligned to the contract of the NDPP. Legal advisers perform a variety of responsibilities,” he said, adding that internal human resources processes should remain internal.
This is not the first time Abrahams finds himself at odds with prosecutors following controversial appointments within the prosecuting authority.
After his appointment in 2015 Abrahams made sweeping changes that resulted in former deputy director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba being promoted to the position of head of national prosecution services – the highest decision-making body in the organisation.
The department initially fell under the leadership of Ramaite, who was moved to corporate services.
The chief executive of the NPA Karen van Rensburg was demoted to the position of an ordinary prosecutor in a Pretoria court.
The asset forfeiture unit’s Willie Hofmeyr, a longtime senior in the organisation, was moved to legal services and was replaced by advocate Pinky Mokgatla.
Mfaku said since the reassignment of staff, including Hofmeyr and Jiba, there had been an improvement in the NPA’s performance.
“The asset forfeiture unit achieved its best performance in the past five years, completing 572 forfeiture cases with a value of R424.6m. The number of freezing orders for 2016/17 was recorded at 377 and valued at R1.194bn compared with 326 orders valued at R778.9m during the last reporting period,” he said.
“The unit also achieved its targets to the value of freezing orders relating to corruption in which the amount involved is more than R5m, attaining R627.3m compared with the R238.6m recorded during the previous reporting period.
“The target in respect of value of recoveries in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act was achieved, recovering R219m against a target of R170m.”
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