Suspended top prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach’s counsel on Friday accused the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of applying “double standards” in the handling of her hearing, compared to the way they handled that of acting national director of public prosecutions advocate, Nomgcobo Jiba, during her labour dispute with the NPA.
Wim Trengove, SC, was referring to an affidavit filed by suspended crime intelligent boss General Richard Mdluli on behalf of Jiba during her Labour Court challenge in 2009 in an attempt to get her suspension set aside.
According to Trengove, Mdluli provided her with two affidavits, as well as phone recordings to use.
The concluding paragraph of one of Mdluli’s affidavits read as follows: “It is disconcerting and shamefully disgusting for the management of the NPA to act like a gang of criminals and a mafia organisation… They are criminals themselves protecting their own and have no respect for the quality of the criminal justice system.”
Jiba was suspended by then-acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe in 2007 for assisting the police in their investigation and arrest of state advocate Gerrie Nel, lead prosecutor in the Jackie Selebi corruption case.
Jiba lost the case, but was reinstated as a prosecutor after she reached an out-of-court settlement with Mpshe and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.
“It is sheer double standards, I tell you. You are gunning for her,” Trengove told Hercules Wasserman, acting senior manager of the NPA’s integrity management unit during the continuation of his cross-examination.
On Thursday the committee heard that Jiba suspended Breytenbach following a memorandum from commercial crimes head advocate Lawrence Mrwebi.
Apparently Mrwebi and Breytenbach had heated arguments about dropping the charges against Mdluli.
Breytenbach is convinced that she was suspended to prevent her from prosecuting Mdluli.
The NPA denies the allegations and insists she was suspended for unprofessional conduct in the Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) and Kumba Iron Ore/Sishen mining probe.
Trengove further questioned how Breytenbach’s “inference” in her Labour Court application, that her suspension letter was backdated, could have led to additional charges against her.
He was referring to the charge of bringing the NPA into disrepute for the alleged allegation.
Wasserman replied these were very serious charges to make, especially if they were unfounded.
Trengove said: “There’s no allegation as a matter of fact that the suspension was backdated… she makes it clear; it’s an inference.”
He also accused the NPA of invading the privacy of Breytenbach, as well as that of Beeld news editor Sonja Carstens.
He was referring to e-mail communication between the two which related to charities, as well as collecting food for the NSPCA.
He also referred to an e-mail in which Breytenbach stated that she earned an extra income by letting out her townhouse, as well as a stable for a horse on her smallholding.
Trengove said in terms if the Labour Relations Act, Breytenbach only needed to disclose shares and other financial interests from public or private entities, as well as ownership of property but not rent.
“This e-mail had nothing whatsoever to do with the investigation,” Trengove said.
He asked how Wasserman had “stumbled across” those e-mails when they clearly had nothing to do with the investigation.
Wasserman was given a mandate to investigate allegations against Breytenbach following a complaint from Mendelow Jacobs Attorneys, acting on behalf of ICT in October last year.
They alleged that Breytenbach was colluding with the Kumba Iron Ore/Sishen’s senior counsel Mike Hellens.
Breytenbach was suspended on April 30 and faces 15 charges.
She pleaded not guilty earlier this week.
The NPA yesterday called its second witness, William Gloster, who is a senior investigator of the NPA’s integrity management unit. He told the committee how he assisted Wasserman in retrieving e-mails between Hellens and Breytenbach.
The case was postponed to August 6.
Pretoria News Weekend