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Johannesburg - The FW De Klerk Foundation is footing the hefty legal bill of senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach partly by way of multimillion-rand donations from billionaire businessman Nathan “Natie” Kirsh.
The National Prosecuting Authority is investigating the “financial relationship” between Breytenbach and the Swazi-born South African businessman who now lives in the UK.
In 1999, Breytenbach was a prosecutor in a case involving Kirsh, who was the complainant against a fraudster who defrauded him out of more than R250 million.
NPA spokeswoman Bulelwa Makeke said the investigation into Breytenbach was still continuing.
She would not comment on links between the criminal case Breytenbach prosecuted and the current investigation.
But she said: “The integrity management unit is investigating their (Breytenbach and Kirsh) financial relationship. One of the elements of the investigation is the legal fees paid by the FW De Klerk Foundation.”
Makeke said that, as a commercial crime unit head, Breytenbach was obliged to declare outside financial interests to the organisation.
Breytenbach was the regional head of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit.
Kirsh, 82, is the ninth-richest billionaire in Africa, according to a rich list by website ventures-africa.com, which estimates his worth at $3.6 billion (about R36bn).
This week Dave Steward, executive director of the FW De Klerk Foundation, confirmed that the foundation had been footing Breytenbach’s bill, and that Kirsh was one of the foundation’s major donors.
“He is a major donor, also to our litigation fund, which has paid the legal fees of Glynnis Breytenbach,” said Steward on Saturday.
“From his donations, we also fund other projects, but the main project is Glynnis’s litigation.”
Steward was not willing to discuss how much the foundation had contributed towards Breytenbach’s legal bill, saying it was a decision that had been taken by the chairman of the board and the executive director.
Breytenbach’s legal woes began in April last year when she challenged her suspension in the Johannesburg Labour Court.
The NPA had suspended her on allegations of not acting impartially in a matter she was involved in.
However, Breytenbach maintained her suspension was linked to her pursuit of fraud and corruption charges against suspended Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
Earlier this year, she was cleared of the 15 charges.
Breytenbach would not comment, referring all queries to her attorney, Gerhard Wagenaar.
Wagenaar said he was not aware of the NPA investigating any “financial relationship” between Breytenbach and Kirsh. He said Kirsh’s name had been mentioned in the investigation, but would not be drawn on how.
“I can’t recall that Mr Kirsh’s name was mentioned in a financial relationship,” he said.
With regard to the investigation, he said the NPA had sent Breytenbach questions. He said Breytenbach needed more information from the NPA.
“They did not (fully) respond to the request for information. We advised our client not to respond to their questions,” Wagenaar said.
Kirsh this week said he had “no idea what the NPA was doing”.
“What could Glynnis Breytenbach do for me? I have major businesses across the world. There is nothing that Glynnis Breytenbach can do for me.”
He confirmed he had been a donor to the FW Foundation for many years.
“I’ve always been a donor, from the beginning. I don’t help her – the De Klerk Foundation helps her. That the De Klerk Foundation supports her is admirable. In my opinion, she is one of the heroes of SA,” said Kirsh.
Kirsh said: “I admire her ability to stand up against political pressure, which is trying to undermine the independence of the NPA.”
It was public knowledge that Breytenbach, as the prosecutor in the matter, had successfully convicted a man who had defrauded him.
“It didn’t make a difference. She was putting a guy in jail who was a crook.”
The Sunday Independent