Breytenbach witness queried

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iol news pic Glynnis Breytenbach standing

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Suspended NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach during her disciplinary hearing.File picture: Thobile Mathonsi

Pretoria - A witness testifying against suspended NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach had very little personal knowledge of her situation, her counsel Wim Trengove said on Monday.

“This witness has given the most extraordinary evidence,” Trengove said during Breytenbach's disciplinary hearing in Pretoria.

“He has come here to present all of these papers... in relation to which no findings were found (by a judge) and gave his conclusion.”

Trengove was referring to Ronald Mendelow, lawyer for Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) who was giving evidence-in-chief at the hearing at the National Prosecuting Authority's office.

Trengove was cross-examining Mendelow, the NPA's witness.

The NPA suspended Breytenbach on April 30, 2012, for allegedly failing to act impartially in her investigation of a dispute between ICT and Sishen/Kumba Iron Ore over mining rights in the Northern Cape.

This was after Mendelow sent a letter of complaint about Breytenbach to then National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane on October 31, 2011.

In the letter, Mendelow claimed she favoured Sishen in her probe and had an improper relationship with Sishen's lawyer Mike Hellens.

Mendelow first testified at the hearing in August last year. He alleged that Hellens had undue influence over Breytenbach in her investigation.

Hellens helped draft affidavits which the police used in their investigations.

Breytenbach 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.

Trengove said during his testimony Mendelow continuously accused Breytenbach and the investigating officer in the case, Lt-Col Sandra van Wyk, of collusion.

This was after Judge Hennie Lacock, in his judgment in the Northern Cape High Court last year, found that an attempt to settle the serious allegations against Breytenbach would be tantamount to “jungle justice”, said Trengove.

The judgment was given during an application by ICT to have search-and-seizure warrants against them set aside.

Trengrove said: “You come to conclusions which the judge said was impossible (to come to).

“The judge knew Mike Hellens, Mrs Breytenbach and Lt-Col Van Wyk worked together to put an affidavit together. You don't have a clue what input Mrs Breytenbach and Lt-Col Van Wyk put into drafting an affidavit.”

Trengrove said Mendelow was biased towards his client, ICT.

Mendelow said evidence he was gave was “objectively given”.

“How can you suggest you are objective?,” Trengrove asked.

“It's your job to be biased. You are biased and paid to be biased.” Mendelow did not agree with Trengove's used of the word biased.

“I think biased is when you are prepared to ignore objective facts,” he said.

The hearing continues at 10am on Tuesday. - Sapa


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