Former head of asset forfeiture unit, Willie Hofmeyr. Picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Johannesburg - The former head of asset forfeiture unit, Willie Hofmeyr, regrets accusing former president Thabo Mbeki of colluding with senior National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials to charge his successor Jacob Zuma with fraud and corruption.

Hofmeyr made the concessions when he was cross-examined by suspended deputy national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Nomgcobo Jiba’s counsel, Advocate Norman Arendse, at the Mokgoro Inquiry on Monday.

Chaired by retired judge Yvonne Mokgoro, the inquiry was investigating whether Jiba and the NPA’s senior advocate Lawrence Mrwebi were fit to hold office.

In a March 2015 affidavit he deposed to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the spy tapes saga involving the DA and Zuma, Hofmeyr claimed that there was collusion by former NDPP Bulelani Ngcuka, former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and Mbeki to use the prosecuting authority as a tool against Zuma.

Hofmeyr also alleged that the criminal prosecution was allegedly aimed at thwarting Zuma’s prospects of replacing Mbeki as the ANC’s and country’s president.

The affidavit came under scathing attack in October last year when the SCA set aside the decision of former NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe to drop the prosecution of Zuma on April 1, 2009.

The SCA judges ruled that Mpshe’s decision was unlawful as he invoked the wrong law to withdraw the charges.

The judges were also highly critical of Hofmeyr’s affidavit, saying it was based on rumours and wholly unsubstantiated to support the withdrawal of the charges.

On Monday during cross-examination Arendse insinuated that due to the SCA judgment, Hofmeyr was supposed to have been subjected to a similar panel as Jiba and Mrwebi. According to Arendse, Hofmeyr’s conduct as depicted in the SCA ruling was far worse than the four rulings made against Jiba that prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint an inquiry in October last year.

In his reply, Hofmeyr said the SCA did not make a finding against him, arguing that the court was just critical of his affidavit.

He told the Mokgoro hearing that he had overreacted in the spy tapes saga when he claimed that criminal charges against Zuma were politically motivated, and that “I will live with that regret for a long time”.

Hofmeyr also admitted that the prosecution had a “solid case” against Zuma, but said the recorded conversations between Ngcuka and McCarthy arguing over when the former president should be charged made him conclude that the prosecution was political.

Arendse insinuated that Hofmeyr’s decision to depose an affidavit in support of the dropping of charges was also politically influenced.

Hofmeyr denied the decision had been political, saying the NPA top management, which included Mpshe, held a collective view to withdraw the charges against Zuma.

Hofmeyr conceded his decision was wrong, telling the Mokgoro inquiry that he accepted the SCA’s view that their behaviour was unethical.

“I overreacted. I agree that we gave undue importance to what was said in the telephone recordings of Mr Ngcuka and Leonard McCarthy.”

The hearings continue.

Political Bureau