Breytenbach hearing: credibility of NPA at stake – judge

2012-07-23 09:02

South Africa faces a possible “constitutional crisis” if the credibility of the National Prosecuting Authority is not restored.

These were the words used by Judge Ronel Tolmay this morning when she granted the media access to senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach’s disciplinary hearing.

“It is of the utmost importance that media have access to this disciplinary hearing as it deals with important constitutional issues related to the NPA’s functioning,” she said.

Tolmay ruled that the media’s presence had the possibility of restoring the NPA’s credibility, which she said had been shaken by allegations of corruption and political interference in the prosecution of former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

“The NPA is in my view no ordinary employer,” said Tolmay, finding that the public interest in relation to the hearing outweighed any consideration of privacy the NPA might have.

Breytenbach claims her suspension is motivated by an attempt to protect Mdluli from prosecution on fraud and corruption charges.

She supported the media application for access to her disciplinary hearing, saying that she was more likely to have a fair hearing if it was public.

It now appears that Breytenbach’s disciplinary, which had been scheduled to start at 10am, has been put on ice.

Mthunzi Mhaga, NPA spokesperson, told journalists who assembled at the NPA’s head office in Pretoria that the NPA was considering appealing the judgment.

He said that the NPA might ask the new chairperson of the disciplinary, Sandile July, for a postponement.

Breytenbach faces charges related to her conduct in the Kumba/Sishen and ICT mining rights dispute.

She has also been charged with speaking to the media, refusing to hand over her NPA laptop and earning an extra income by renting out a flat and stabling horses.

» Follow Charl du Plessis on Twitter: @Charlduplessc. Follow City Press: @City_Press


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