Johannesburg - Helen Zille has poured cold water on reports that her party’s parliamentary leader, Glynnis Breytenbach, could face a litany of charges including corruption, fraud and racketeering.
Recommendations in a final report by the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Integrity Management Unit have said that Breytenbach should be charged for corruption, misconduct, conflict of interest, fraud and racketeering.
The report also recommends that her lifestyle should be audited and her role in a number of companies investigated.
If these allegations are proven to be true and Breytenbach is found guilty, she would be sacked from her nearly R1 million-a-year parliamentary position.
But the DA leader, who had not responded to The Star’s requests for comment this morning, poured cold water on the claims against Breytenbach, saying that “the NPA has been running a vendetta against Miss Breytenbach”.
“We do know the NPA long ago forfeited its independence. We also know Miss Breytenbach has been fighting for the independence of the NPA from the ruling party.
“She has been trying to reassert its independence. I take note of the report in that context. I have not seen the report and once I see it, I will have further comment,” Zille said.
Her spokeswoman, Ntomboxolo Makoba, acknowledged receipt of The Star’s e-mail and said they were working on a statement. However, she had not responded by the time of publication.
NPA spokesman Nathi Mncube said last night they had referred the report to the national police commissioner for the attention f General Vineshkumar Moonoo, head of the National Detective Services department.
“It will be up to the SAPS to decide whether they conduct a follow-up criminal investigation on any of the recommendations in the report,” he said.
The report, which The Star has seen, centres on Breytenbach’s allegedly inappropriate links with advocate Andre Bezuidenhout and businessman Nathan Kirsh, spanning more than a decade.
It claims she abused her seniority, defeated the ends of justice, defrauded the NPA and accepted kickbacks from her associates while pursuing cases purely for their benefit.
While the integrity unit’s draft report into Breytenbach has been widely publicised, the final version of the report has never been made public.
In February, Breytenbach and the NPA settled their labour dispute by agreeing that she withdraw her appeal at the Labour Appeal Court, and in exchange the NPA waived its rights to pursue any disciplinary proceedings based on the integrity unit report.
Breytenbach’s alleged misdemeanours include soliciting a $1 million (R11m) loan and a R6.3m donation from Kirsh, who had been a complainant in a R250m fraud case which Breytenbach worked on several years before as the lead investigator.
Last year, the FW de Klerk Foundation, via Kirsh, donated R6.3m to her legal battle against the NPA.
The report finds the foundation was used as a cover to transfer the money, and they were not aware of the relationship between Breytenbach and Kirsh.
University of Johannesburg politics lecturer Piet Croucamp said that Breytenbach could be sacked from her parliamentary job if found guilty.
“According to parliamentary rules, you must be removed immediately (if found guilty of a crime),” he told The Star on Thursday morning.
Breytenbach, a DA parliamentarian with a justice portfolio, earns R933 000 a year.
Croucamp said the rules allowed the Speaker of Parliament to institute removal proceedings if the member’s party failed to do so itself.
However, Breytenbach would only be removed if she was found guilty in court, which could be a “long process”.
“I don’t think there will be a finalisation in the next two years,” Croucamp predicted.
“The NPA is involved in so much politics it is almost impossible for someone on the outside to tell whether this is politics, or if it is really a process of justice,” he said.