Nkonyeni hits out at NPA

2012-07-27 00:00

THE speaker in the KZN Legislature, Peggy Nkonyeni, has accused National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials of “persistent” media leaks about the controversial “amigos” trial in which she is an accused.

Nkonyeni spoke out yesterday after a weekly newspaper approached her office claiming to be in possession of an affidavit from one of the witnesses in the case. The affidavit allegedly details her involvement in the case.

She said she had written to the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP), the public protector and the minister of justice, complaining about the conduct of officials of the directorate.

Nkonyeni said the persistent media leaks were violating her constitutional right to a fair trial and reduced it to a trial by media.

This is her second letter of complaint. Last year, Nkonyeni’s lawyers wrote to the justice ministry after a senior NDPP official was quoted in a Sunday newspaper giving details of the case even before she had been officially charged.

Nkonyeni said the initial indiscretion was followed by a series of articles on her alleged involvement in the case, apparently leaked to the media by unnamed NDPP officials.

“I have been subjected to an enormous media onslaught, mostly emanating from the [office of the] NDPP and particularly [the] recently ‘demoted’ [acting] provincial director of public prosecutions, advocate Simphiwe Mlotshwa. He is on record as discussing the merits of the case, even before we were formally charged, with members of the media,” said Nkonyeni.

She added that the articles had resurfaced recently following the reported removal of advocate Mlotshwa as acting provincial director of public prosecutions.

Nkonyeni said the articles citing unnamed sources in the public prosecutions directorate were suggesting that Mlotshwa had been removed because he refused to heed a call to drop charges against her.

“I believe that my rights to a fair trial have been violated and I request that you take the necessary steps to investigate the unprofessional conduct of the NPA in KwaZulu-Natal in relation to my complaint.”

Mlotshwa could not be reached for comment yesterday. His phone was off and he had not responded to messages left on his voicemail by the time of going to press.

NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mahaga said yesterday the authority had not yet received the second letter, but would deal with the matter upon its receipt. He said the NPA respected the rights of an accused.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela confirmed that she had received the complaint and would assess it first.

The “amigos” trial involves Nkonyeni and KZN MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu. The charges relate to allegedy corrupt tenders awarded for the hire and purchase of water purification plants supplied by Uruguay businessman Gaston Savoi. The case is known as the “amigos trial” because some of accused were allegedly treated to a trip to South America and addressed each other as “amigo” in emails.

The trial involves 16 accused is due to run from October 1 to December 14.

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