NPA defends prosecutor reshuffle

2010-03-30 14:12

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) defended its plans to send

senior prosecutors to lower courts, saying today this was part of a plan to

boost struggling lower courts.

“The fact of the matter is that the changes to prosecutor

allocation and redeployment of senior prosecutors to courts, especially in the

lower courts, is in support of the strategy to address the dearth of skills in

the organisation, and redistributing resources where they are needed most,” said

a statement from the authority.

At least one of the 14 prosecutors, chief state prosecutor Andre

Lambrecht, intends challenging his move from a managerial position to a lower

court, feeling that it coincided with his refusal not to oppose bail in musician

Jub Jub’s drunk driving case.

He is also aggrieved that the move was very sudden and plans to ask

for his old job back.

However, the NPA insists that the reshuffle is part of its

“Strategic Plan for 2010 - 2015”, which is being finalised for submission to the

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, and to Parliament.

The document will outline challenges like the resourcing of the

lower courts, regarded as a “real threat” to service delivery in the

courts.

The NPA feels that senior prosecutors’ skills would be better used

in the lower courts, where most crimes are heard, and cases are led by mainly

inexperienced prosecutors, instead of them doing administrative work.

The National Director of Public Prosecutions has asked directors of

public prosecutions to identify courts that need such a boost, as well as

experienced prosecutors, including directors, who can be redeployed.

“These are prosecutors – their duty and obligation to the country

is to institute criminal proceedings in court, and to handle any other work

incidental thereto.”

The authority denied that these were demotions, and said people who

felt that way believed they could better serve the prosecutions service “sitting

in their offices dealing with administrative matters”.

“However, that cannot work for the organisation – the skills of

prosecutors are best utilised and serve the country the most, in court.”

The plan will also take into account transformation issues like

racial demographics, to address past imbalances.

But the African Christian Democratic Party said NDPP Menzi Simelane

must explain himself, suggesting that some of the redeployments could be for

revenge.

They pointed out that Mutuwa Nengovhela, was part of the

prosecution team in the rape trial of President Jacob Zuma.

He was a deputy director at the High Court in Johannesburg and was

moved the Family Court.

“This decision smacks of revenge and requires an explanation,” said

ACDP MP Steve Swart.

Zuma was acquitted in that case.

A report in The Star suggested that the bid not to oppose bail for

Jub Jub could be linked to his campaigning for the ruling ANC during last year’s

election.

It also felt that the move would be a blow for prosecutors, already

reeling from the disbanding of the Scorpions last year, which had their own unit

of investigating prosecutors.

The disbanding of the Scorpions was regarded by some observers as a

response to their pursuit of Zuma on corruption charges.

That case was abandoned shortly before Zuma became president.


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