Breytenbach hearing dominated by dispute

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breytenbach Independent Newspapers Prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach. File photo: Thobile Mathonsi

Pretoria - Details of a prospecting rights dispute dominated proceedings at suspended NPA advocate Glynnis Breytenbach's disciplinary hearing in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Amid frequent objections by the National Prosecuting Authority prosecutor in the hearing, William Mokhari, SC, Breytenbach's own lawyer, Wim Trengove SC, pressed on.

Trengove said the questions were important in the light of the accusation that she took a complaint against Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) seriously, but did not act against their competitor Sishen/Kumba Iron Ore.

Last year, Ronald Mendelow, the lawyer for ICT, sent a letter of complaint about Breytenbach to then National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane on October 31.

In this he alleged that she favoured Sishen in her probe and had an improper relationship with Sishen's counsel Mike Hellens.

In Tuesday's submissions, Trengove said there were two separate complaints against Sishen/Kumba by ICT.

One was a “lodging complaint” in which Sishen allegedly fraudulently lodged their application for mining rights early on April 30, but had it date stamped May 1.

Another was when the ICT said that it knew its applicatioin was deficient, but that this was because a former official from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) must have “surreptiously slipped forged documents” into ICT's application to contaminate it.

Mokhari interjected and said all the hearing chair had to do was to decide whether Breytenbach gave the complaints the requisite attention, or whether the complaint ought to have been given the requisite attention at all.

But Trengove pressed on, saying that he wanted to show that the ICT complaint was worth Breytenbach's attention.

With Breytenbach sitting next to him, Trengove went through ICT's explanation to support its contention that its application seemed to have had been contaminated inside the department of mineral resources' (DMR) offices, although it made it clear that this just supposition.

Trengove questioned ICT's theory that a former DMR employee had arrived at the DMR offices on June 18 and had asked to see the ICT application.

An official, Le Roux, left the office to ask another official, Engelbrecht, if this was allowed. When he returned, he found the former official “deep” in the ICT file, Trengove said.

Both Trengove and Mendelow said it was only speculation that something was inserted into the file to contaminate the application.

Through questioning, Mendelow told the hearing that the signature in the ICT application was found to have been forged and that the title deeds in the application folder were also forged.

Mendelow suggested someone substituted the title deeds with the forged one to contaminate the application for the rights to an iron ore mine in Kimberley.

Trengove said if the forged copies were in the file, ICT should have originals at its office to show that the ones in the files were forgeries. Mendelow did not immediately know if his client had them.

To have done the substitution, the person who did the substituting would have had to have gone to the office twice - once to remove the documents to take them for copying and altering, and then once to substitute them.

Going through a checklist of the documents required for mining applications, Trengove said ICT did not have 11 of the required documents in its application.

Mendelow said the company would have been asked to get them later on. Earlier in the hearing, Mendelow exlained that officials allowed them to go and get some outstanding documentation.

Breytenbach was suspended as regional head of the NPA's specialised commercial crime unit on April 30 last year.

She has argued that acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba suspended her in an attempt to stop her from prosecuting former police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli on fraud and other charges.

Breytenbach has pleaded not guilty to 16 charges brought against her by the NPA.

The hearing continues. - Sapa


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