Pretoria - An NPA official feared a fight if he took prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach's laptop, a disciplinary inquiry into her suspension heard on Monday.
Khaya Xaba, a risk specialist at the National Prosecuting Authority, said at the hearing he had handed Breytenbach a letter of suspension on April 30.
He was supposed to collect her work laptop, keys, and access discs at the same time.
However, Xaba and Breytenbach's attorney Gerhard Wagenaar disagreed about the handing over of the laptop.
Xaba said: “Mr Wagenaar was quite aggressive, in such a way that I realised we were going to come to a fist fight if I insisted on taking the laptop.”
Instead, Xaba allowed Breytenbach to keep the laptop so that her IT specialist could delete files she claimed were of a personal nature, from its hard drive. The laptop was handed to the NPA two days later.
Among the charges Breytenbach faces are gross insubordination and improper conduct, for allegedly not handing her work laptop to the NPA, and for having information on it deleted.
Breytenbach has argued she did not hand over the computer due to fears about invasion of her privacy.
Earlier in the day, Jaco Venter, a computer forensics expert, told the hearing in Pretoria he was contracted by the NPA to analyse files deleted from Breytenbach's laptop.
Breytenbach's counsel, Wim Trengove, asked Venter what care he had taken to preserve Breytenbach's privacy during his analysis, as the deleted documents were confidential.
“Nobody told me that,” Venter said.
He added he had not looked at the contents.
Another witness on Monday contradicted evidence given earlier in the hearing about a computer server crashing.
NPA systems administrator Eudele Swart said there had been no problems with the NPA's regional servers. This included the server to which Breytenbach's laptop backed up data.
Earlier in the hearing, the acting senior manager of the NPA's integrity management unit, Hercules Wasserman, testified he needed access to Breytenbach's laptop, as the server had crashed.
Wasserman said he was unable to see the content of the files deleted from the laptop by checking backups on the server.
Swart said there had been a crash at the NPA head office, but as regional offices were not affected, it had always been possible to access Breytenbach's deleted files.
He said he was asked for the first time to restore the deleted files on July 26, the fourth day of the disciplinary hearing.
Swart said he went to Breytenbach's office on April 30 to change a back up setting on her laptop.
This was the day she was suspended as regional head of the NPA's specialised commercial crime unit.
Swart found Breytenbach's “forensics guy”, Philip Otto, at the office already making a duplicate of Breytenbach's hard drive. Swart said Breytenbach did not offer to give him a copy of the hard drive.
Trengove suggested she had offered NPA officials a copy of the hard drive.
Xaba also denied he was offered a copy.
Swart said Otto took the laptop back to his office to delete Breytenbach's photographs and other personal data.
Breytenbach has pleaded not guilty to 16 charges. She has contended 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.
The hearing, held at the NPA offices in Silverton, resumes on August 14. - Sapa