Durban - The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) joined Advocates for Transformation in warning those “attacking the integrity” of National Prosecution Authority boss Mxolisi Nxasana to back off.
Association president Busani Mabunda likened criticism of Nxasana, for not disclosing that he had been tried for and acquitted of murder 30 years ago, to critics of President Jacob Zuma saying that Zuma should not be in office because he was charged with and acquitted of rape.
“We unreservedly support him and this frivolous campaign is without substance and not legally sustainable,” Mabunda said.
“The BLA does not understand how on earth a person can be appointed to lead such an important institution when there has not been a proper background check… the question of his fitness to head the NPA cannot now be genuinely raised.”
Nxasana – a Durban lawyer who was appointed to the post by Zuma in October last year – was at his desk in Pretoria on Monday, still waiting to hear what, if any, steps would be taken against him in the light of allegations that he had failed his security clearance because of past brushes with the law.
Newly appointed Justice Minister Michael Masutha said in a statement at the weekend that he was “familiarising himself with the facts” and would then decide what to do.
With Nxasana claiming he was a victim of a smear campaign and refusing to resign, the minister’s choices were limited because only a commission of inquiry could determine if he was a fit and proper person to hold office.
Nxasana believed he might be placed on “special leave”, a move he would challenge because he wanted to testify at an inquiry to expose those he says have been undermining him from day one, peddling lies and saying that they would bring him down.
“These people make sure they drop your name, and I am told they have direct access to you and communicate with you behind my back,” Nxasana says in the letter he wrote to Jeff Radebe the day after the then justice minister asked him to resign, before Radebe’s redeployment as a minister in the Presidency.
Late last week, The Mercury exposed the details of the widening rift between Nxasana and Radebe, one of South Africa’s most powerful politicians, who apparently backed one of Nxasana’s deputies for the job.
Nxasana claimed the security clearance was a red herring, being used to get rid of him.
He said he did disclose the case of murder to several people, including a director in the State Security Agency, but he believed that he did not have a duty of law to disclose it on the vetting form because he was acquitted and the form only asked for pending cases and previous convictions.
In his letter to Radebe, Nxasana claimed that the same applied to the arrest for inconsiderate driving: “I was wrongly arrested and the senior public prosecutor declined to even place it on the court roll. I disclosed the complaint where I was fined by the law society and it is there in my vetting documents.”
Approached for an update on Monday, Masutha’s spokesman, Lawrence Ngoveni, referred to the statement released at the weekend.