Simelane confirms climbdown on plans

2010-05-14 15:26

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Menzi Simelane confirmed

that he had reversed restructuring moves at the NPA’s specialised units due to

orders from President Jacob Zuma and the justice ministry.

“Yes, in the case of the Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Specialised

Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU), changes were reversed,” Simelane said after

briefing Parliament’s watchdog public accounts committee.

“It is exactly as it was.”

The units will again report directly to their respective directors,

Willie Hofmeyr and Chris Jordaan, instead of to the provincial directors of

public prosecutions.

A storm broke last month after Simelane unveiled a strategic

five-year plan for the NPA that was seen as curtailing the powers and

independence of the highly successful special units by changing their command

structure.

A fortnight later, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe told him to put the

plan on hold, and Radebe told the media the units remained intact.

The minister also told MPs he had not been briefed on the proposed

changes before Simelane announced them to Parliament.

It emerged this week, however, that changes had nevertheless been

implemented at the SCCU.

It had been split into two units and Jordaan moved

sideways. Simelane was ordered to reverse the steps.

Zuma raised the issue in Parliament, reiterating orders that the

plan be consigned to the deep freeze until it became clear how it would fit the

justice and security cluster’s performance contract.

Simelane told Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts

(Scopa) that uncertainty about impending changes at the NPA had damaged staff

morale.

He blamed “negative” media reports for some of the gloom, but said

it was by no means uniform as some staff were “excited about

transformation”.

He said: “There are differences. There are people who are

uncertain, in the sense that something has been left hanging. That is

understandable.”



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