Pretoria - Former police crime intelligence head Lt-Gen Richard Mdluli has “a strong case” to answer, suspended NPA senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach told her disciplinary hearing on Thursday.
Breytenbach said she had been angry that charges against him were withdrawn because there was no lawful justification for doing so.
The decision was made by NPA specialised commercial crimes unit (SCCU) head Lawrence Mrwebi.
“I was very angry about his decision. I felt it was a decision he could not lawfully make without the concurrence of Mr (Sibongile) Mzinyathi (North Gauteng deputy director of public prosecutions).”
Breytenbach told the hearing, which is being held at the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) headquarters in Pretoria, that there was a prima facie case to be answered.
“For him (Mrwebi) to say he had made the decision without fear, favour or prejudice, in my view, was preposterous.”
Breytenbach believes she was suspended in April 2012 to stop her prosecution of Mdluli, amid suggestions of political interference.
However, the NPA has said her suspension was rather because of her handling of a criminal investigation relating to a mineral rights dispute between mining companies Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) and Kumba Iron ore over Kumba's Sishen mine.
Breytenbach said that when she was informed of the NPA’s decision to withdraw the case against Mdluli, she promised to pursue the matter, with a view to having the charges re-instated.
“I made it clear to Mr Mrwebi that I would do everything in my power to get the matter re-instated. In my view, Mr Mdluli and (his co-accused Colonel Heine Barnard) should have been and should still be prosecuted,” she said.
“I have never met Mr Mdluli and I don’t have nothing personal against him, but there is a strong case to be answered.
Mdluli and Barnard had faced charges of fraud relating to alleged misuse of a crime intelligence fund.
“Prosecutors take an oath to uphold the Constitution and I take it seriously. If we withdrew the matter for no good reason it was not a decision taken without fear, favour or prejudice and it’s unlawful.”
Breytenbach said she teamed up with Mzinyathi, who she said also was against the withdrawal of the charges, and arranged a meeting with Mrwebi.
“We agreed that our stance will be that the matter can’t possibly be withdrawn.”
They met Mrwebi on December 9, 2011.
“When we met Mr Mrwebi, he said he felt our meeting was about testing his powers as the newly-appointed national head of the SCCU. We didn’t know, but he (Mrwebi) then informed us that he had already informed the defence about the withdrawal,” said Breytenbach.
She said they were told the decision would not be reversed.
“At that stage, Mr Mzinyathi turned to me and said we had to withdraw the matter provisionally until the impasse was sorted,” said Breytenbach.
“I, and Mzinyathi also, did not want wash the dirty linen of the NPA in public, so we then agreed to withdraw the matter. It's true there was an agreement, a very reluctant one.”
Breytenbach said the only possible solution was to elevate the matter to the national director of public prosecutions Menzi Simelane, but at that stage, he too was facing problems keeping his job.
“The only way to resolve it was to elevate it, but Mr Simelane was about to be placed on special leave. There was no one to go to.”
The presidency announced at the end of December 2011 that Simelane had been placed on “special leave” and that Nomgcobo Jiba, the deputy national director of public prosecutions, would act in his stead.
The hearing continues on Friday. - Sapa