By Karyn Maughan and Gill Gifford
Frene Ginwala has praised suspended prosecuting boss Vusi Pikoli as a "person of unimpeachable integrity" - and simultaneously gave President Kgalema Motlanthe a reason to fire him.
The president on Monday declined to reinstate Pikoli as national director of public prosecutions, despite Ginwala declaring him fit and proper to hold office.
In a move that Pikoli's legal team have slammed as a travesty of justice, Motlanthe justified his decision with Ginwala's observation about Pikoli's interaction with ex-president Thabo Mbeki over the Scorpions' mooted arrest of police chief Jackie Selebi.
Ginwala criticised Pikoli for second-guessing Mbeki's concerns about the potentially devastating impact of Selebi's arrest, and refusing to give the then president two weeks to prepare South Africa for it.
"Had this been presented as a reason for the suspension, when his conduct would have held a real risk of undermining national security, I would not have hesitated to find the reason to be legitimate.
"However, these were not among the reasons put forward by the government before this enquiry," she stated.
In submissions made to Motlanthe about Ginwala's negative findings against Pikoli, lawyers for the former prosecuting head have slammed her criticism of his "two weeks" dispute with Mbeki as "overblown and exaggerated".
According to Ginwala, Pikoli's attitude to Mbeki's request "evinces a lack of appreciation for the sensitivities that are attendant on matters of national security".
"It also illustrates a lack of respect for the president's constitutional obligation to maintain stability and national security, and it suggests that advocate Pikoli believes his own assessment of the security environment superior to that of the president."
Pikoli's lawyers are less than happy with this assessment and strongly suggest that it was aimed solely at protecting Mbeki.
"(Ginwala's) view seems to be that Mr Pikoli's sin was his failure to agree blindly and without question to the president's mere request for two weeks made without any motivation or explanation...
"Mr Pikoli should immediately and blindly have agreed to it, whether justified or not, simply because the president asked for it. We submit with respect that the enquiry is entirely wrong.
"It would be a dereliction of Pikoli's duties to act in such an obsequious manner, as the enquiry suggests he should have done."
Pikoli's lawyers further insist in their submissions that there is no reason why he should not be reinstated.
Meanwhile, while Motlanthe used one of the few negative findings Ginwala made against Pikoli as grounds for his dismissal, he was reluctant to commit Justice Director-General Menzi Simelane - the state's main accuser against Pikoli - to the same fate.
This was despite the fact that Ginwala chastised Simelane as conniving and dishonest, finding that he had made numerous baseless claims against Pikoli, given himself powers that he did not have and bedevilled former justice minister Brigitte Mabandla's relationship with Pikoli.
"I find it probable that the differences in their (Pikoli and Mabandla's) respective understandings were precipitated by (Simelane's) misconception of his authority over the National Prosecuting Authority, which influenced his reports to the minister," Ginwala stated.
At the Union Buildings on Monday, Motlanthe said he had "noted the observations of the enquiry with regard to the issue of (Simelane's) character and conduct". He added that he had asked Minister of Justice Enver Surty to "follow the matter up".
Speaking to The Star on Monday, Pikoli's attorney, Aslam Moosajee, said his client was "shocked and very, very disappointed" by Motlanthe's decision. Pikoli's legal team will be meeting over the next few days to discuss "any further action" that they might wish to take, he said.