NPA head running out of time

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Copy of NM Mxolisi Nxasana GCIS National Prosecution Authority boss Mxolisi Nxasana

Johannesburg - National Prosecuting Authority head Mxolisi Nxasana has finally been officially notified of President Jacob Zuma’s intention to suspend him, pending an inquiry into his fitness for office, almost a month after the president announced he would launch the inquiry.

Meanwhile, the turmoil in the NPA continues, with its former integrity unit head claiming on radio this week that it was riven by factions, and that the chief executive officer, Karen van Rensburg, had instituted a fact-finding committee to probe the alleged leaking of information to the media and other “unethical and unprofessional conduct” by senior staff.

Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, said on Friday the president had written to Nxasana, informing him of his pending suspension on full pay and giving him a chance to make written representations.

Earlier reports said Nxasana had received the letter on Wednesday and been given until Friday to give reasons why he should not be suspended.

But the NPA boss was attending to the funeral arrangements of his brother-in-law on Friday and had asked for more time, according to the Mail and Guardian.

Maharaj said he didn’t know what deadline Nxasana had been given.

Zuma announced on July 5 that he planned to launch the inquiry, after reports Nxasana had been denied a security clearance in the light of previous brushes with the law, including a murder charge stemming from his youth.

Nxasana has said he didn’t declare this charge when he was appointed because he had been acquitted on the grounds that he acted in self-defence.

On Wednesday, suspended NPA integrity management unit head Prince Mokotedi said in a radio interview that the prosecuting authority was split between a “Zuma” and a “Zille” camp, stemming from the disbanding of the Scorpions and prosecution of former police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

He accused former Scorpions prosecutor Gerrie Nel of having run “a political campaign” by investigating senior ANC leaders. Nel’s allies included former prosecutor-turned DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach, according to Mokotedi.

Regarding Zuma’s letter to Nxasana, Breytenbach said it was “extremely worrying” that there were as yet no terms of reference for the inquiry.

“It can’t take a month to frame the terms of reference. Surely, if you’ve taken a decision you must know what it is you want to investigate and how,” she said.

Asked what the hold-up had been in getting the inquiry off the ground, Maharaj said it was a matter of following proper processes.

“You would regard it as a hold-up, I think it’s a process issue. You’ll remember that the law is very bare with regards to such an inquiry. It simply says such an inquiry can be held, so I think they have to be meticulous in ensuring processes are followed,” he said.

Zuma was “pretty close” to finalising the details.

He said Van Rensburg had instituted the fact-finding committee in the light of “various media articles which demonstrate the involvement of certain employees, including senior members, of the NPA in leaking information to the media and other interested parties”.

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