Breytenbach must explain why suspension was unfair – NPA

2013-01-28 13:26

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Senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach's explanation for why her suspension is unfair must "come from her own mouth (and) be given under oath".

This was the position adopted by the NPA in arbitration proceedings which got under way in the General Public Service Bargaining Council in Centurion today.

Advocate William Mokhari, representing the NPA, said Breytenbach "has called us here saying she's been unfairly dismissed, now she must tell us why".

The arbitration proceedings come after Breytenbach's failed labour court application to have her suspension overturned last year.

The court ruled that the matter must first be referred to arbitration before it could be argued in the Labour Court.

Advocate Andrew Redding, representing Breytenbach, said they would rely mainly on affidavits and documents which formed part of the court proceedings in the labour court case.

But Mokhari baulked at this, saying it was an "absurdity" that Breytenbach could expect not to give testimony or be cross-examined.

"The allegation is that there was an ulterior motive (in suspending Breytenbach) ... How can you resolve that without giving evidence and cross-examination?

"We have an employee who clearly deliberately avoids taking the case forward," said Mokhari.

Redding, however, said he knew that Mokhari "would dearly like to cross-examine Ms Breytenbach".

"It's not that Ms Breytenbach doesn't want to testify, we as her legal team have said to her you don't need to lead evidence."

Redding said he was "perfectly certain we can get a positive decision (from the bargaining council)" based on what was contained in the court documents.

Commissioner Mashoro Matlala, the presiding officer, eventually intervened and it was agreed that "it is (Breytenbach's) case and it is up to them to see how they present it ... given they run a risk if they are found not to have proven their case".

Matlala said Redding could therefore continue to make his case but also allowed for later oral arguments.

Breytenbach was suspended in April last year for alleged abuse of power in the Imperial Crown Trading and Sishen Iron Ore mineral rights dispute.

She has consistently maintained that she was suspended in order to protect suspended crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli from prosecution.

Breytenbach's attempt to have her suspension overturned in the bargaining council is separate from her disciplinary hearing, which was postponed last Friday.

Redding said that he would argue that Breytenbach's suspension was unfair because she was never permitted to give her side of the case, a "fundamental injustice".

Redding also said there was no further need for Breytenbach to be suspended from work because she could no longer interfere with the investigation into her.

He said this was because the NPA had already presented its case in her disciplinary hearing.

The case continues.

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