Pretoria - The advisory panel assisting President Cyril Ramaphosa to find the next National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss on Thursday, quizzed KwaZulu-Natal prosecutions boss Moipone Noko over the "malicious prosecution" of retired KZN judge president Chiman Patel which cost the State almost R1 million this year in damages.
One of the panelists, Mvuzo Notyesi of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers relentlessly probed Noko to clarify the fiasco in which Patel was initially charged for crimen injuria, and the matter was later withdrawn in court.
"We can't keep doing this, you have to answer my question now. You took a decision to charge Judge Patel. Let's just agree on that," said Notyesi.
Notyesi went on: "But when the case is taken to court, you were nowhere to be found. You withdrew the case. Is that consistent with a director of public prosecutions [DPP]?"
Noko said she does not understand.
Notyesi said when the crimen injuria case was ready for trial, after "the judge had been embarrassed and everybody had come for the hearing" Noko withdrew the charges.
Noko said Notyesi had "got it wrong from the media".
Chairperson of the panel, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe intervened, requesting Noko to explain the actual circumstances.
"You must explain because he says after all the preparations had been done, the decisions that you took and the matter was court ready, then you withdrew the charges. That is what he [Notyesi] is saying," said Radebe.
Noko said she was hoping to give "a proper perspective" on the matter.
"Yes, I made a decision and when the matter went to court, it was withdrawn because there was a reason to withdraw it," she said.
Notyesi highlighted that the South African government had to pay a sum of R900 000 in damages to the retired judge.
Noko agreed, adding that it was "unfortunate and it's sad".
Notyesi said that huge damages bill was a result of Noko's action.
"You made charges in spurious matters, you charge a person, when the matter goes to court, it's simply withdrawn," said Notyesi.
Noko argued that the charges were not spurious.
"Minds were applied. Minds of the [National Director of Public Prosecutions] NDPP himself and two senior DPPs. Five of us all decided that the charges must be preferred. That is where it came from. It was not spurious," said Noko.
Radebe intervened again, requesting Noko to explain why she later withdrew the charges.
In June, the State was ordered to pay the legal costs of Patel and R900 000 for damages following his successful civil claim of malicious prosecution relating to the criminal case of crimen injuria which was later withdrawn against him.
Patel sued the State for an amount of R3 million in damages for the embarrassment brought by the criminal case and impairment of his dignity, reputation and humiliation.
The lawsuit emanates from a 2013 incident at Judge Patel’s chambers where the plaintiff, a clerk at the court opened a crimen injuria case against him, claiming that Patel had shouted at her and called her names including “nonsense, trash and rubbish".
Noko was the third candidate to be interviewed on Thursday for vacant NDPP post.
African News Agency (ANA)