Forged title deeds raised at NPA hearing

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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 - There were two versions of the forged title deed relating to Imperial Crown Trading's (ICT) application for prospecting rights, suspended NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach's disciplinary hearing was told on Tuesday.

“The forger used the Sishen copies to do his forgeries,” her lawyer Wim Trengove submitted.

Tuesday's hearing was dominated by questioning on the paperwork that ICT was to have submitted for its prospecting licence, in competition with Sishen/Kumba.

Earlier, the hearing was told by ICT counsel Ronald Mendelow that ICT's application had been contaminated when forged title deeds were placed in their application.

Trengove said that on close scrutiny of copies of the title deeds collected during the investigation there were two versions of the forgeries. Differences included a date stamp cut off in the copying.

He said one copy of the forgery was left at the department of mineral resources.

A different one was forwarded by e-mail by the ICT's surveyor in Kimberley.

The surveyor had been asked to send the title deeds to a forensic investigator from law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, appointed by Kumba/Sishen after a dispute over prospecting rights arose between the two companies.

ICT was awarded a 21.7 percent stake in Kumba after Arcelor Mittal missed a deadline to convert the rights in 2010. This is being challenged.

Trengove also questioned the authenticity of ICT's process of certifying title deeds as true copies, and raised questions about the official who did the certifying.

Mendelow lodged a complaint against Breytenbach last year, saying she was focusing too heavily on ICT during the National Prosecuting Authority's investigation into the Kumba/Sishen dispute, and not enough on Kumba/Sishen.

“Now how is it Mr Mendelow that there are now two forgeries?” asked Trengove of Mendelow.

“I don't know,” he replied.

Trengove suggested that the other forged copy of the title deed might be “the smoking gun”, which Mendelow agreed with.

Trengove said the police wanted to take a mirror copy of the surveyor's computer. Initially the surveyor agreed and was friendly. But later, after speaking to Mendelow, he refused to have it done.

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 it knew its application was deficient, but because a former department of mineral resources (DMR) official must have “surreptitiously slipped forged documents” into the application, to contaminate it.

National Prosecuting Authority prosecutor in the hearing, William Mokhari interjected and said all the hearing chair had to do was 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 he wanted to show the ICT matter 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 DMR's offices, although he made it clear that this was just supposition.

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

According to this theory an official, one 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.

Through questioning, Mendelow told the hearing the signature in the ICT application was forged, along with the title deeds in the application folder.

Mendelow suggested the substitution with the forgery at the office was to contaminate their application.

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

Mendelow said the company would have been asked to get them later on.

Earlier in the hearing, Mendelow explained 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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