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Witness apologises for false accusation

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Suspended NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, at her Disciplinary hearing, at the NPA offices in Silverton. File picture: Etienne Creux

Pretoria - A witness in the disciplinary hearing of suspended NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach had to apologise on Wednesday for accusing a lawyer or a senior police officer of “planting” evidence in a court case.

Ronald Mendelow, the lawyer for Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) said an affidavit by a forensic investigator, Dirk Engelbrecht, was surreptitiously slipped into a court record.

Breytenbach's counsel Wim Trengove took Mendelow to task regarding the serious accusation.

“Your insulting accusation this morning was completely false, correct?” Trengove asked.

This was after he pointed out that Mendelow himself had filed Engelbrecht's affidavit as part of an annexure to the investigating officer Sandra van Wyk's affidavit.

“The point you were making is that it was unlawfully slipped into the court file. [But] you were the one who filed it,” said Trengove.

Mendelow conceded that he was wrong and apologised, putting it down to a misunderstanding between himself and a correspondent. When asked who he thought had “planted” the affidavit, Mendelow could not say.

“So who planted it into the affidavit? No body planted it, full-stop,” said Trengove. “Under oath you accused either lawyers or a senior officer of planting evidence.”

Mendelow replied: “I have apologised.”

Trengove said Mendelow had made a “slap-dash inquiry”.

“Why make the accusation if your investigation has been so superficial?” he asked Mendelow.

Mendelow lodged a complaint against Breytenbach last year, saying she was focusing too heavily on ICT during the National Prosecuting Authority's investigation into the Kumba/Sishen dispute, and not enough on Kumba/Sishen.

Breytenbach was suspended as regional head of the NPA's specialised commercial crime unit on April 30 last year.

She argued 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. Breytenbach has pleaded not guilty to 16 charges brought against her by the NPA.

The hearing continues.

Sapa


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