Distinguish facts from insults: lawyerComment on this story
Pretoria - The facts contained in a complaint about suspended NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach need to be distinguished from insults in the letter, her lawyer said on Wednesday.
“You paint a picture of two people acting hand-in-glove,” Wim Trengove said in Pretoria.
He was referring to Breytenbach and Sishen/Kumba Iron Ore lawyer Mike Hellens SC.
Trengove was cross-examining Imperial Crown Trading's (ICT) lawyer Ronald Mendelow, who wrote the letter. He was testifying against Breytenbach.
The National Prosecuting Authority said it suspended Breytenbach on April 30 last year for 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 the then National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane on October 31 last year, alleging she favoured Sishen in her probe and had an improper relationship with Hellens.
Mendelow said he had seen Breytenbach and Hellens arrive at a hearing in the Kimberley High Court, where ICT lodged an urgent application to have search-and-seizure warrants against them set aside.
“When observing them... I thought they were a couple,” Mendelow told the disciplinary hearing at the NPA's office.
He said they sat together and chatted animatedly.
In the letter of complaint he claimed the two were at the court on joint business.
Trengove disputed this, pointing out that Breytenbach was at court because her investigation was being challenged. Hellens was there because Sishen/Kumba were applying to intervene in the hearing.
The two talked as they waited for court proceedings to begin.
Trengove asked Mendelow if it was wrong for a prosecutor and attorney to be good friends.
“Prosecutors are usually on friendly terms with complainants,” he said.
Earlier, Trengove said Breytenbach and Hellens had a long-standing relationship and were good friends, but when it came to work they maintained a professional relationship.
“They have been adversaries in many cases and have gotten to know each other very well and are good friends. But they still maintain a professional relationship, and regularly act against one another as adversaries,” he said.
In his letter Mendelow accused Breytenbach of supplying documents to Hellens.
Mendelow said Hellens and Breytenbach had a improper relationship and it seemed Hellens was “calling the shots”.
Trengove would continue cross-examining Mendelow on Thursday. - Sapa