‘Victimised’ Breytenbach cleared of all charges

2013-05-27 12:37

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The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) “victimised” suspended senior state prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, who was today cleared of all disciplinary charges against her.

Advocate Selby Mbenenge, the chairman of Breytenbach’s disciplinary hearing, today found that the “guilt of the employee on the plethora of charges has not been proven”.

Mbenenge cleared Breytenbach on all 15 counts of improper conduct the NPA levelled against her.

Mbenenge also found that the NPA’s attempt to charge Breytenbach with bringing the NPA into disrepute by alleging in a Labour Court affidavit that Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba suspended her to protect Richard Mdluli, amounted to “victimisation”.

Mbenenge said that disciplining an employee for challenging her suspension “constitutes victimisation within the definition of the Labour Relations Act”.

In a short statement read by Breytenbach’s attorney after the hearing, Breytenbach said she was “elated” despite the “unjustified attack” on her and the personal humiliation she had suffered.

“I intend, if allowed to, to take up the cases, which I was dealing with – and by this I mean all the cases that I was dealing with – upon my return to office,” said Breytenbach.

The charges against Breytenbach related to her conduct in the investigation of a criminal complaint in the mineral rights dispute between politically connected Imperial Crown Trading and Sishen Iron Ore Company.

Most of the complaints against Breytenbach relate to her conduct in the investigation of a criminal complaint by Sishen against ICT.

She was accused of aligning herself with the case against Sishen and acting without fear, favour or prejudice.

But Mbenenge accepted Breytenbach’s evidence that the investigation was still at a preliminary phase and that she hadn’t disregarded allegations of criminality made by ICT against Sishen.

Mbenenge said there was no evidence to suggest that Breytenbach had relenquished control of the drawing up of search and seizure warrants to advocate Mike Hellens, who acted for Sishen.

Mbenenge also found Breytenbach had established a valid expectation of privacy in relation to her NPA laptop.

She therefore did not act unlawfully when refusing to hand it over.

On charges relating to Breytenbach deleting information from her laptop, Mbenenge pointed out that the NPA had access to this information on their server all along.

Quoting words used by Breytenbach’s advocate, Wim Trengove, Mbenenge said Breytenbach had established that the NPA “trawled” through her inbox and had violated her right to privacy.

Breytenbach has maintained throughout the case that the charges against her were an attempt to derail the prosecution of suspended crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

City Press has previously reported on the connection between Mdluli and acting NPA director Nomgcobo Jiba.

Back in 2008, when Jiba was fighting her own suspension in the Labour Court, Mdluli made an affidavit in support of Jiba.

Jiba was facing disciplinary charges because she had allegedly driven a process to get Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor in the Jackie Selebi matter, arrested.

Nel was previously successful in prosecuting Jiba’s husband Booker Nhantsi on a charge of stealing trust funds from a client.

Nhantsi was pardoned by President Jacob Zuma in 2010.

Mdluli filed an affidavit on Jiba’s behalf, saying she had only been involved because she was requested by the police to assist them in the investigation.

The NPA was not immediately available for comment.

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