Delivering his verdict at the Pretoria North Magistrate’s Court, magistrate Brian Nemavhidi said the offence of defeating or obstructing the ends of justice could not be committed if that which an accused intended to defeat was the subject of an internal investigation and not judicial prosecutions, either civil or criminal.
Nemavhidi said the quasi-judicial or administrative proceedings were not and could not be classified as an administration of justice, and as such both Breytenbach and Wagenaar were acquitted.
“The same relates to count six, where allegations are to the effect that the accused had been duly informed through a notice of suspension that accused number one was the subject of further investigation by the NPA.
“So if there ever was an offence committed in anticipation of internal investigation, they were neither civil nor criminal, and on this basis the accused are acquitted,” he said.
The magistrate, however, said the State had established a prima facie case against the two, but noted that they would not provide the reasons until the closure of the trial.
Breytenbach declined to comment on the court’s latest finding as proceedings were still to continue.
The MP and Wagenaar, her former attorney, were charged with contravention of the NPA Act and defeating the ends of justice for allegedly shredding work-related documents and deleting her private files on her work laptop in 2012.
Breytenbach was cleared of 15 disciplinary charges after it emerged a copy of everything she deleted was still on the NPA’s server and could be retrieved. She resigned from the NPA in 2014.
The investigation against Breytenbach came after a complaint that she was not impartial in her handling of a mining rights case involving Imperial Crown Trading and Kumba Iron Ore subsidiary Sishen Iron Ore.
She dismissed the allegations and accused her former bosses of orchestrating a criminal investigation against her to get rid of her because she refused to drop charges against the then suspended crime intelligence head, Richard Mdluli.
She alleged the charges against her correlated with the withdrawal of charges against Mdluli by NPA commercial crimes head Lawrence Mrwebi, which she fiercely opposed.
The trial looking into the remaining four charges is to continue from October 9 to 13.