Legal brawl behind Kumba complaint

2012-05-05 17:41

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) insisted this week that the suspension of Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach was not related to the Richard Mdluli matter.

Instead, Breytenbach was suspended for allegedly abusing her powers in the matter of mining companies Kumba and Imperial Crown Trading (ICT).

But Breytenbach’s supporters argue that the timing of her suspension is suspicious.

On April 24, she handed a memorandum to acting NPA boss Nomgcobo Jiba requesting a review of the decision not to prosecute Mdluli. On Monday, six days later, she was suspended.

But her letter of suspension was backdated to April 23 – the day before she handed her memorandum to Jiba. And, reported Beeld newspaper, she saw Jiba and other senior employees in the week of April 23, so there was no reason they couldn’t suspend her then.

Breytenbach’s role in the Kumba matter is explained in court papers filed at the Kimberley High Court.

Kumba claims that ICT, a politically connected company with shareholders that include President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe’s partner, Gugu Mtshali, forged its application for prospecting rights of iron ore at Sishen.

The department of mineral resources then laid a charge against Kumba, accusing it of forging ICT’s application.

ICT accuses Breytenbach and the Hawks of investigating only Kumba’s complaint against them and of having an improper relationship with Kumba’s counsel, Mike Hellens SC.

Kumba appointed Hellens on a watching brief.

However, says ICT, he has become intimately involved in the criminal case.

Breytenbach doesn’t deny that Hellens assisted her and the Hawks in drafting search and seizure warrants, but she says this is not unusual.

ICT also complained to the NPA that Breytenbach and Hellens were sitting together at court when the matter was heard.

Two advocates who spoke to City Press said the matter had an additional dimension: a feud between Hellens and ICT’s advocate, Edmund Wessels.

Wessels and Advocate Sita Kolbe SC laid charges against Hellens with the Johannesburg Bar Council in 2009 after Hellens was appointed to lead an NPA prosecution.

The Pretoria High Court ruled that Hellens couldn’t continue as prosecutor because of a perceived conflict of interest.

Kolbe and Wessels were appointed in his place.

They then reported him to the Bar, which found he had done nothing wrong.

“I have no doubt that this complaint (against Breytenbach) is more about Wessels and Hellens,” said one advocate.

Breytenbach’s lawyer, Gerhard Wagenaar, wrote to the NPA this week requesting more details on how she allegedly abused her powers.

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