Breytenbach hearing: ‘Outside advocate did prepare police affidavit’

2012-08-14 15:29

Glynnis Breytenbach’s lawyer today said it was not disputed that an advocate not appointed by the NPA had prepared a police affidavit for a search and seizure warrant.

Wim Trengove, appearing for Breytenbach in her disciplinary hearing today, said that it was common cause that Mike Hellens, a counsel for Sishen Iron Ore, had “prepared the affidavit for a search warrant, but that the input he received wasn’t all his own”.

Trengove said that Hellens had received guidance from investigating officer Sandra van Wyk, whose affidavit Hellens drafted, and from Breytenbach, who was responsible for the case.

Trengove made this statement during the testimony-in-chief of Ronald Mendelow, an attorney who represented Imperial Crown Trading.

Five of the charges against Breytenbach relate to alleged abuses of authority in the investigation of the dispute between Imperial Crown Trading and Sishen over mining rights.

The NPA alleges that Breytenbach had acted improperly by allowing Hellens to draft the affidavit and that she had an improper relationship with him.

“No wonder it was drafted in such a partial manner, with a completely biased interpretation of the so-called facts”, said Mendelow.

But tempers flared in the hearing when Trengove objected to Mendelow making “assertations for which there is no factual basis”.

William Mokhari, the NPA’s prosecutor in Breytenbach’s hearing, hit back, saying: You can deal with that in cross-examination”.

Trengove responded by saying he was entitled to make sure that baseless allegations were not made during evidence in chief.

When a visibly irratated Mendelow tried to intervene, Trengove said: “I object to this witness taking part in our debate. He is not here as an advocate, he is here as witness.”

The debate revolved around the basis for ICT’s original suspicion that Hellens had been involved in drafting the affidavit.

The allegation first appeared in a 2011 affidavit by ICT founder Phemelo Sehunelo, in which he said terms used by Van Wyk “don’t seem to be the parlance of a member of the SAPS”, but were of a more legal nature.

Mendelow said that ICT had “subsequently learnt” that Van Wyk’s entire affidavit was “drafted from start to finish, word for word, by Advocate Mike Hellens”.

Trengove interupted, saying: “I wonder if the witness can give us the source of that hearsay evidence.

“He’s not allowed to make assertions of which he doesn’t have personal knowledge.”

When the question was put to Mendelow by hearing chairperson Sandile July, he responded that he “based the assertions on a bundle of documents shown to me by counsel for the NPA”.

The documents referred to were emails between Breytenbach and Hellens, which had only been accessed by the NPA subsequent to ICT’s initial complaint against Hellens.

Mendelow will continue his testimony-in-chief tomorrow.

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