NPA chief quits

By Wendy Jasson da Costa

The chief executive of the National Prosecuting Authority and the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) has resigned.

Marion Sparg, who has been with both the prosecutions and the elite police unit for the past seven years, handed in her resignation on Monday. She will join the corporate sector on July 1.

A circular announcing her departure was released on Wednesday.

"I leave still very confident about the NPA and the Scorpions," she said, pointing out that people left organisations all the time and that seven years was a long time for one person to be in such a position.

It had also been difficult shouldering two difficult positions, and she had considered various options over a long period, which included vacating one position.

NPA spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said on Wednesday night that Sparg's departure was "a very sad moment" and that she had left an indelible mark on the organisation.

He said she had brought fresh ideas to the table and that it in many respects she had helped to shape the NPA into its current state.

Sparg said she had reconsidered her position when Bulelani Ngcuka was still the national director of public prosecutions, but he did not want an "exodus" from the organisation when he left. She said she had agreed to stay on a while longer.

At that time, disciplinary processes against her were under way and she couldn't leave with a cloud hanging over her head, Sparg added.

Earlier this year, she and her colleague Beryl Simelane, deputy CEO of the NPA, and the head of the NPA's integrity unit, Dipuo Mvelase, were cleared of allegations of nepotism, fraud and corruption.

Sparg has been under suspicion since 2003, and was probed by the Public Service Commission (PSC), but the charges were eventually dropped, leaving the department of justice with a massive legal bill.

Sparg said the entire process had been a "frivolous and wasteful exercise" and the Department of Justice and its legal teams had not given enough consideration to the process.

When the misconduct charges against them were dropped, it emerged that it had been based on "letters from faceless people" which were sent to the PSC.

Sparg said on wednesday there seemed to be a trend for making "anonymous or faceless allegations in South Africa which then go on to gain authority".

It's a complaint aired by many others in the past, including Cosatu.

However, the former Umkhonto weSizwe guerrilla said she had "no fears about my integrity", and neither did her family and friends.

She said many people were using the media to fight political battles at various levels and she hoped it would quickly die down.

Sparg said she did not buy in to conspiracies - it was just the nature of the political environment and how the ANC was changing because it had to move from a liberation organisation to a ruling party.

The tripartite alliance was also still trying to find its place, she said.

Unfortunately, the NPA got drawn into a lot of political battles, but it was part of the job and required a "certain kind of tenacity", said Sparg. Despite all that, she wasn't bitter, just sad.

Sparg said she and National Director of Public Prosecutions Vusi Pikoli felt that the positions she currently held should be filled by two people. In the meantime, Simelane would stand in as CEO of the NPA.

The austice department said on Wednesay it had no knowledge of Sparg's resignation and would wait for official notification from the NPA.

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