Breytenbach DC: City Press application succeeds

2012-06-29 11:24

The media have been given access to senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach’s disciplinary hearing.

Barry Madolo, the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing, today ruled it would be in the interest of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Breytenbach for the media to be present.

He said this was a result of “the perception that (Breytenbach) is being victimised or that there is a perceived sinister motive behind the disciplinary hearing”.

The ruling followed an application for access made by City Press lawyers during the hearing last week.

Breytenbach, the senior prosecutor in charge of prosecuting former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli, was suspended by the NPA on April 30.

Advocate Raylene Keightley, appearing for City Press last week, argued that the presence of the media would enhance the the standing of the NPA in the eyes of the public.

She also said that the NPA had a constitutional duty to be accountable to the public.

Advocate William Mokhari, hired by the NPA to prosecute Breytenbach in her disciplinary, argued that media access might affect the right of the witnesses to give evidence freely and that justice would better be served if the proceedings were held in private.

Mokhari argued that the chairperson had no jursidiction to decide whether the media could have access to the hearing.

But in his ruling today, Madolo disagreed with Mokhari, saying that the NPA “could simply have closed the gates and said: ‘no media’”.

“Instead the NPA allowed the media to attend and to address me on this point. I call that abdicating. To later say that the chairperson has no jurisdiction is a contradiction,” Madolo ruled.

Cop Cluedo

The NPA alleges that the disciplinary charges against Breytenbach relate to her conduct in the investigation of a dispute between Imperial Crown Trading and Kumba Iron Ore over mining rights.

The NPA is also charging Breytenbach with speaking to the media, earning extra income by stabling horses and renting out a flat and refusing to hand over her computer to NPA investigators.

But Breytenbach claims that her disciplinary hearing is an attempt by elements in the NPA to protect Mdluli against prosecution.

During Breytenbach’s urgent Johannesburg Labour Court bid to overturn her suspension this week, her lawyers argued that specialised commercial crimes unit head Lawrence Mrwebi had ordered Breytenbach to withdraw fraud and corruption charges against Mdluli.

She claimed that she insisted he be prosecuted.

Judgment in the labour court case was this week postponed, while the disciplinary hearing is due to go ahead on July 23.

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