Menzi Simelane
Menzi Simelane
Bulelani Ngcuka
Bulelani Ngcuka

Cape Town - National director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Mxolisi Nxasana was appointed in late August last year after Nomgcobo Jiba had acted in the position for about 19 months.

Jiba, an advocate, was asked to hold the fort after the incumbent, Menzi Simelane, went on special leave in December 2011 in the wake of the Supreme Court of Appeal finding that his appointment had been invalid.

The judgment was given in a DA challenge to Simelane’s 2009 appointment.

In October 2012, the Constitutional Court unanimously upheld the appeal judgment. It ruled that the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was a “non-political chief executive” and that appointment criteria were objective.

The president’s subjective view was “not in keeping with the constitutional guarantee of prosecutorial independence”.

Simelane’s predecessor was acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe who, in April 2009, decided to drop more than 700 corruption and other charges against Jacob Zuma.

He argued that the charges had been politically influenced. This conclusion was based on transcripts of “spy tapes” that recorded phone conversations between former prosecutions boss Bulelani Ngcuka and his deputy, Leonard McCarthy.

The charges stemmed from Judge Hillary Squires’s conviction of Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, but Judge Chris Nicholson tossed the counts out of court on technical grounds in August 2008.

Instead of redrafting the case, the NPA dropped charges against Zuma in April 2009.

The DA continues to pursue its attempts to acquire the full record of that decision, including the spy tapes. The next court date is in August.

In 2007, then-NPA head Vusi Pikoli was suspended amid a tussle and fallout with then justice minister Brigitte Mabandla over the charging of then national police commissioner Jackie Selebi with fraud and corruption. Selebi was ultimately found guilty and jailed.

Although Pikoli was cleared of wrongdoing in late 2008 by the Ginwala Commission of Inquiry, which raised questions about Simelane’s testimony, he was fired that year by then president Kgalema Motlanthe.

Deputy NDPP Silas Ramaite acted in the post between September 2004 and January 2005.

This followed the resignation in 2004 of the first NDPP, Ngcuka, appointed in 1998, after his controversial decision not to bring corruption charges against Zuma in 2003. He said while there was prima facie evidence of corruption it was not a winnable case.