‘All info on Breytenbach’s laptop belongs to the NPA’

2012-07-24 12:24

A senior NPA investigator has testified that “all the information” on senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach’s laptop was owned by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Hercules Wasserman, a senior manager at the NPA’s Integrity Management Unit, this morning became the first witness to testify in Breytenbach’s disciplinary hearing.

Shortly after Breytenbach pleaded not guilty to all fifteen disciplinary charges against her, Wasserman began testifying about his attempts to obtain Breytenbach’s official NPA laptop.

Wasserman said he had requested to meet with Breytenbach on February 7 in order for her to hand her laptop over to NPA investigators.

Wasserman testified that all information on an NPA laptop was considered an “asset of the NPA” in terms of the NPA’s internet and email policy.

He said this was done after a preliminary investigation found there was a “good indication” that there could have been certain unethical “engagements” between Breytenbach and Mike Hellens.

Several of the charges against Breytenbach relate to her conduct in the mining rights dispute between Kumba-Sishen Iron Ore and Imperial Crown Trading.

The NPA is alleging that Breytenbach’s relationship with Hellens could indicate a possible bias against ICT.

It also alleges that she allowed Hellens to assist with the drafting of certain NPA affidavits.

Wasserman today testified that after the initial investigation, it became a “critical issue” to get hold of Breytenbach’s laptop.

Three of the charges against Breytenbach relate to the fact that she refused to hand over her NPA laptop and later gave it to her lawyer, Gerhard Waggenaar to keep.

He said that at the meeting on February 7, Breytenbach and Waggenaar, said they were concerned about the fact that Breytenbach had not been given any reasons for the complaint against her.

Wasserman said he told them they would have to speak to the office of the NPA’s CEO about this, but agreed that they would meet later that day to make a copy of Breytenbach’s hard-drive so she could protect her rights.

“I did indicate that the policy of the NPA allows for the presence of private information on any computer ... But I also explained to them that we deal with this on a regular basis ... And we would handle private information in a sensitive manner,” he said.

Wasserman said he was “surprised” when he found that Waggenaar had written a letter to the NPA CEO’s office saying that Breytenbach would not give up her laptop until reasons for the investigation into her were provided.

Waggenaar asserted that Breytenbach had a right to have the private information on her laptop separated from official information.

Wasserman called this unheard of.

He also said that Breytenbach had not informed him that she would be leaving the country on holiday the next day.

Wasserman said he found it of “great concern” that Breytenbach had left her NPA laptop with a third party, her lawyer.

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