Centurion - Former acting deputy director of Public Prosecutions in KZN Advocate Simphiwe Mlotshwa on Friday detailed how senior officials at the NPA applied pressure on him to carry out prosecutions in controversial cases, particularly the infamous Cato Manor 'Death Squad' killings.
Mlotshwa was speaking at the Mokgoro Inquiry into the fitness of advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mwrebi to hold the office of Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mlotshwa told the inquiry led by retired Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mkgoro in Centurion that prior to his departure at the NPA in July 2012, there had been relentless instructions from the NPA's national office for him to prosecute accused persons in the Cato Manor case.
He detailed that in 2009, when now NPA head Shamila Batohi, was preparing to leave her post as KZN's deputy director of prosecutions, recommendations had been made for him to act in the post.
Mlotshwa said the initial duration of his acting stint was meant to last for only six months but was extended by another six months.
In his affidavit read out at the inquiry, Mlotshwa said that at one stage while at the national office he had been called in by his former superior Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba about his fate. Jiba was acting as the National director of public prosecutions at the time. He said Jiba informed him that a decision had been taken for him to step down from the acting post. He highlighted that she thanked him for his contribution to the organisation thus far.
Further in his testimony Mlotshwa recounted that at the time while he drove back to Port Shepstone, he received a call from Jiba informing him that there was a matter that had to be enrolled into the courts as a matter of urgency also citing that there was immense "pressure" for them, the (NPA) to do so.
"I informed her that I would read the dockets and make a decision accordingly. She stated that the matter was urgent. I responded that I did not have prosecutors to urgently look at the documents. She informed me that because she was at OR Tambo Airport, she was going to call me later. She did not call me later," he said.
Mlotshwa said a few days later he then received a call from advocate Andrew Chauke informing him that he had been instructed to appoint a team of prosecutors to handle prosecutions in the Cato Manor killings, further adding that there were "very sensitive security issues surrounding the matter."
Mlotshwa said he suggested that they speak about it at an upcoming DPPs' meeting. While there, Mlotshwa says he was informed by Chauke that Jiba wanted to see them in her office. He says at the office Chauke relayed his security concerns saying he couldn't discuss everything as there would be possible arrests including people in Mlotshwa's office.
He explained that at that point Jiba had told them not to worry as she had procured the legal opinion of advocate Gerhard Nel in the legal affairs section and that they could go ahead and appoint the team of prosecutors.
During this time an indictment had been drawn up, Mlotshwa said, and Jiba had informed him that it would have to be signed by him.
Probed by counsel, Mlotshwa said he had serious reservations about the indictment as it had minimal information.
"It is the difficulty I found myself languishing in. There was no case number or police station (on the indictment)," he said.
Taken to task over his relationship with Jiba, Mlotshwa said he continues to regard her as a sister and that their relationship has been smooth and there hasn't been an axe to grind with her.
"There has never been a grudge," he said.
Interestingly, Mlotshwa was one of candidates shortlisted for the position of NDPP last year.
When asked earlier if he saw his removal coming and how he felt about it, Mlotshwa said signs had been there and this was evident when he received emails and text messages of support.
Further asked if he knew the motives behind his removal, he added: "There were so many theories. Initially, I felt a bit bad because I thought I was suitably qualified and all of a sudden, Boom!"
He said when he made up his mind to leave in 2015 it was motivated by the bad treatment he received from his predecessor.
"I used to get good conviction rates in court, but was told that I chose cases. The remarks took the steam out of me," he said.