NPA boss gets the boot over Amigos case

2012-07-14 18:44

KwaZulu-Natal will have a new acting prosecutions boss from tomorrow after Advocate Simphiwe Mlotshwa was removed from the position by his bosses last week.

Advocate Moipone Noko­Mashilo, who has been running the ­National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) tax unit in Durban, will take over as acting provincial director of public prosecutions tomorrow.

Mlotshwa’s purge is directly linked to the high-profile Amigos corruption trial, which is set to go to trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on the eve of the ANC’s Mangaung elective conference.

Noko-Mashilo, who previously worked at the national tax unit in Pretoria, has been based in ­KwaZulu-Natal for three years.

City Press can reveal that ­Mlotshwa’s removal is linked to his prosecutorial decisions in the ­Amigos case, including an arrest warrant for a high-profile politician that was never executed.

Sidelining Mlotshwa follows months of speculation around whether charges against ANC ­provincial heavyweights Mike Mabuyakhulu, the economic development MEC, and legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni would be withdrawn, and if other politicians would be added as accused.

They have been charged along with civil servants and water ­purifier kingpin, Uraguayan businessman Gaston Savoi, for tender­rigging.

“Mlotshwa is being dropped ­because of his refusal to withdraw the charges against Mabuyakhulu and Peggy in the Amigos case,” said an NPA source.

Last week the Mail & Guardian reported that Mlotshwa had been sidelined over his insistence that Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni be charged.

A leaked memorandum from the NPA head office read: “Withdraw charges (against Mabuyakhulu) ... He acted on the proposal that came from (former KZN treasury head Sipho) Shabalala and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize. If the latter is not being charged, how can he be charged?”

Mlotshwa was also told by his ­superiors that Nkonyeni’s “bribe” of R20 000 could “easily be ­explained”.

City Press understands the legal teams of Nkonyeni and Mabuyakhulu have pushed the NPA either to withdraw the case against them, or charge Mkhize as well.

There has also been speculation that Mkhize might turn state ­witness, something which he and the prosecution have repeatedly denied.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said he would not respond to “pre-emptive speculation by unknown sources”.

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