KZN NPA boss faces revolt

2013-08-24 00:00

KWAZULU-Natal’s acting director of public prosecutions (DPP), Moipone Noko, faces a revolt by a section of her staff who are unhappy with the way she is steering her ship.

Weekend Witness has confirmed that an investigation into the grievances lodged by some Pietermaritzburg staff is underway by the national DPP.

This includes uncertainty under Noko’s rule about whether the Durban or Pietermaritzburg office remains the “seat of the DPP” in KZN.

It is further alleged that Durban is being allocated a bigger budget than

Pietermaritzburg.

The internal investigation was confirmed by NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke.

However, she declined to give details, saying the investigation against Noko was an internal matter and “to give details of it in the media will not be proper”.

Among some of the serious allegations against Noko are issues of racism and “tacit intimidation”.

She is also in the firing line for her decisions to withdraw charges in two high-profile cases within a short time after taking up her post.

Those include the so-called Amigos case, where charges were withdrawn against political bigwigs Mike Mabuyakhulu and Peggy Nkonyeni.

The other relates to Durban businessman Thoshan Panday and Colonel Navin Madhoe, who were accused of attempting to bribe KZN Hawks boss Major-General Johan Booysen.

A source said within a week of replacing acting DPP Simphiwe Mlotshwa in 2012, Noko withdrew the charges against Mabuyakhulyu and Nkonyeni even though she could not have read the 80 000 pages of evidence that related to the case.

Noko’ actions were felt to be bringing the KZN DPP’s office into disrepute and it had lost credibility as a result of her decisions, according to one source.

Some staff believe she has not responded transparently or adequately to court cases in which the DA is demanding answers for her decisions.

Concerned staff members are also questioning Noko’s financial management, and whether she is a “fit and proper person able to … resolve disputes that have arisen between staff and management”.

They also speak of rifts between some senior managers and staff arising from allegations of racism and favouritism.

Weekend Witness has had access to the minutes of a staff meeting held on May 31, and a letter signed by 32 members of staff sent to the DPP’s national office in June calling for an inquiry into a variety of grievances.

However, the newspaper has ascertained that there isn’t unanimous support for all the grievances listed. Some agree with certain of the complaints but not others. These mainly relate to individual complaints and allegations of racism.

Complaints raised in the letter allege inequality in the awarding of performance bonuses and disparity in the allocation of work. Staff are allegedly assigned litigation on the basis of race if it is more likely to be rewarded with merits.

It is further alleged that certain individuals are placed in strategic positions for purposes of awards at the end of the assessment period; and that there exists “tacit intimidation” of some staff members by management.

It also mentions a lack of communication between management and staff and irrational decisions taken at the expense of staff.

The letter requested that “no bonuses be paid to anyone pending the finalisation of your investigation”.

Concern was raised that the unresolved issues have created “enmity” among staff in the office, which didn’t exist when a permanent DPP was in charge. The last permanently appointed KZN DPP was advocate Shamila Batohi.

“This also affects service delivery, which is one of the core functions of the DPP’s office, as the staff morale is at its lowest level,” according to the letter.

Since Batohi left the NPA in November 2009, three acting DPPs have been appointed, including Simphiwe Mlotshwa who was replaced in July 2012, allegedly because he insisted on pursuing the prosecution of Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni.

Noko declined to comment.

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