‘You are gunning for her’

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breytenbach july 27

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Suspended NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach in upbeat mood at her disciplinary hearing at the NPA offices in Pretoria. Photo: Oupa Mokoena.

Pretoria - The National Prosecuting Authority is applying double standards in its action against suspended prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, her lawyer said on Friday.

“... It's sheer double standards, you are gunning for her,” Wim Trengove said at her disciplinary hearing in Pretoria.

Trengove asked how Breytenbach's “tentative” inference in her Labour Court application that her suspension letter was backdated, could have led to charges against her.

One of the charges Breytenbach is facing is that of bringing the NPA into disrepute in her application to the Labour Court, for accusing her employer of backdating her suspension letter.

“There's no assertion as a matter of fact that the suspension was backdated... she makes it clear it's an inference,” Trengove said.

He was cross-examining Hercules Wasserman, acting senior manager of the NPA's integrity management unit, at the authority's offices in Silverton.

This was the third day of cross-examination of Wasserman.

Trengove said the NPA had applied double standards in its treatment of Breytenbach, in comparison of its treatment of now acting national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba.

Jiba was involved in a long-running dispute with the NPA, in which she filed an affidavit by former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli in two applications she made to the Labour Court to have her suspension set aside.

Mdluli's affidavit refers to the NPA heads as “the mafia”.

He writes: “I aver it is quite disconcerting and shamefully disgusting for the top-level of the NPA to act like a gang of criminals in a mafia-style operation designed and calculated to protect one of their own.”

Trengove asked Wasserman if Jiba was facing disciplinary charges over this statement. Wasserman said he did not know.

“It does rather pale advocate Breytenbach's tentative suspicion into insignificance, doesn't it?” Trengove asked.

Wasserman said he could not comment.

Trengove asked how Wasserman had “stumbled across” e-mails between Beeld reporter Sonja Carstens and Breytenbach, while searching for evidence about the complaint he was supposed to be investigating.

Wasserman's unit was asked to investigate Breytenbach after a complaint by Mendelow Jacobs Attorneys, on behalf of Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) in October last year.

Breytenbach was alleged to have failed to have acted impartially in investigating the Sishen/Kumba Iron Ore and ICT mining rights dispute.

Wasserman told the hearing the NPA had concerns about Beeld reports.

E-mails sent from Carstens to a number of recipients, including Breytenbach, called for donations of dog and cat food, and for a PlayStation for an orphanage.

An e-mail from Breytenbach to Carstens, in Afrikaans, read: “Hi, thanks for the newspaper, G.”

Trengove called the e-mails “utterly irrelevant to the Mendelow complaint”.

Wasserman said they showed a friendship between Carstens and Breytenbach.

When Trengove accused Wasserman of speculating wildly about a friendship, Wasserman replied: “That is right, I speculate.”

Breytenbach is facing charges of improper conduct and bringing the NPA into disrepute for speaking to the media either directly, or through her attorney.

She has denied all 16 charges against her.

The hearing continues. - Sapa


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