Lawyer’s involvement ‘covered up’: witness

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breytenbach

Independent Newspapers

Prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach. File photo: Thobile Mathonsi

Pretoria - The role a lawyer played in a case Glynnis Breytenbach was prosecuting was covered up, a disciplinary hearing heard on Monday.

“(Advocate Mike Hellens) role was disingenuous and disguised in Lt-Col van Wyk's affidavit,” Ronald Mendelow, the lawyer for Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) said.

“It was disguised because it was highly improper for legal counsel to draw up warrants and lodge affidavits.”

Mendelow was testifying for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), at its offices in Silverton, Pretoria.

He was testifying on how Hellens had drafted search warrants on behalf of police officers.

The NPA said it suspended Breytenbach 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 Sishen's counsel Hellens.

After this complaint was filed, Luhlabo was approached by Nazeer Cassim SC on November 10, 2011.

Cassim told Luhlabo that Breytenbach and Hellens had at separate times phoned him to ask if he represented Luhlabo.

Although not Cassim's client, Luhlabo agreed to meet him.

Cassim told Luhlabo that Hellens said the NPA wanted to offer Luhlabo a deal to turn State witness against ICT.

Mendelow said it was clear that Hellens had drafted an affidavit on behalf of Lt-Col Sandra Van Wyk, who was the investigating officer in the case, and a criminal complaint laid by Kumba against ICT.

“We knew the affidavit was drawn up by Mr Hellens, we had been informed,” Mendelow said.

The two separate affidavits were similar in style and format except for the final paragraph.

“We came to the conclusion that he (Hellens) had drafted Lt-Col van Wyk's affidavit. They were more or less identical... they are similar in style and content,” Mendelow said.

He said Lt-Col Van Wyk had failed to disclose Hellens' involvement.

Mendelow testified last year August in the disciplinary hearing against Breytenbach.

He was being questioned by the NPA's counsel William Makhari.

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