Hofmeyr walked into a ‘trap’

2011-12-03 16:40

When seasoned crime-buster Willie Hofmeyr walked into Justice Minister Jeff Radebe’s ­office on Tuesday morning, he thought he was being summoned to be a witness.

Also in the office was advocate Menzi Simelane, the national director of public prosecutions and Hofmeyr’s boss at the ­National Prosecuting Authority.

Hofmeyr and Simelane are known not to get on.

Four sources close to what happened that morning told City Press that Hofmeyr was expecting Simelane to be given the boot by Radebe.

Instead, it was Hofmeyr who was fired as head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) by Radebe, with Simelane the witness.

Hofmeyr was replaced by former Judge ­Willem Heath after almost a decade at the SIU helm. Heath founded the unit in 1996.

Hofmeyr retains his position as deputy ­national director of public prosecutions and ­Asset Forfeiture Unit head.

Hofmeyr, who had been overstretched by wearing two hats, had a few months ago been asked by Radebe which­ ­position he would choose to keep. Hofmeyr chose the SIU.

Sources close to Hofmeyr said President Jacob Zuma was under the impression that Hofmeyr was moving closer to Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who is said to harbour ambitions to unseat Zuma at next year’s ANC elective conference in Mangaung.

On Thursday the Supreme Court of Appeal set aside Simelane’s 2009 appointment as prosecutions boss, saying that Zuma had ­acted irrationally.

Although it is still unclear whether Zuma would appeal against this judgment, speculation is rife that he is looking for a ­replacement for Simelane.

Some sources said Zuma had wanted to replace Simelane anyway, partly because colleagues had threatened to have him struck off the roll as an advocate because he had been dishonest in giving evidence to the ­Ginwala Commission about the fitness of his predecessor, Vusi Pikoli.

If Simelane is struck off the roll, he would not qualify to be prosecutions boss.

“We must now use our heads to start looking for another candidate, because even if we succeed at the Constitutional Court, there might be another challenge to strike ­(Simelane) off the roll as an advocate,” a ­government source said.

Deputy Correctional Services Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Hofmeyr are punted to succeed Simelane.

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