Suspended senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach will finally go head to head with the National Prosecuting Authority tomorrow in a mammoth Labour Court clash, with both parties questioning each other’s conduct.
Breytenbach has hauled her employer before the court alleging unfair suspension and a cover-up relating to the dismissal of charges against suspended police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
The prosecutor was suspended in April after a complaint was laid against her by Imperial Crown Trading (ICT), a mining company she was investigating.
But Breytenbach contends the suspension happened six months after the actual complaint – and that the decision by the acting National Director of Public Prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba, was based on an “ulterior motive”. Jiba, she says, merely used the ICT complaint as an excuse to suspend her after she took “personal control” of the Mdluli case in November.
But Jiba hit back at Breytenbach this week in a 70-page affidavit, denying any Mdluli link to the suspension.
Jiba said Breytenbach was accused of misconduct in the investigation of the Kumba-Sishen Iron Ore-ICT mineral rights case in Kimberley, laid as far back as last October. A second complaint was laid in November and lawyers for the company met NPA officials because of “serious concerns” over Breytenbach’s alleged failure to conduct herself in accordance with the NPA Act.
But Breytenbach questions why she was only charged six months after the ICT complaint if the charges against her were serious.
“If I were minded to interfere with NPA witnesses, which I am certainly not, I would have had ample opportunity to do so before my suspension,” she says.
But Jiba says Breytenbach was only suspended once she began “interfering” with the investigation.
“Her notice of suspension was only resorted to when it became apparent there was no other option available to the NPA but to suspend (her) to prevent her ongoing interference with the investigation and tampering with evidential material and data on her laptop,” Jiba said.
She also said Breytenbach refused to return a state-issued laptop for three months and an internal investigation later revealed she had deleted certain e-mails.
Jiba’s statements are backed by affidavits submitted by those who investigated the complaints against Breytenbach.
“As is apparent from the amended charge sheet, the charges against (Breytenbach) are extremely serious and have nothing to do with her conduct in regard to the Mdluli matter,” Jiba said.
“There can be no doubt that the reckless and false allegation by (Breytenbach) in her application is devised to divert attention from the serious allegations she faces regarding her conduct, which has tarnished the good name of the NPA and brought the NPA into disrepute.”
Breytenbach said she was “determined to ensure his representations were dealt with on their merits and not an excuse to protect (Mdluli) against the fraud and corruption charges.”
She said she refused to be moved to another unit following the complaint against her because it was “tantamount to conviction without a hearing”.