Pikoli stands firm

2009-11-24 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Vusi Pikoli might have reached a settlement with the state, “but he continues to insist that there was interference with the prosecuting authority”.

This was said by Aslam Moosajee, the lawyer representing the dismissed national director of public prosecution (NDPP), after Pikoli withdrew an application to have his dismissal set aside yesterday.

This was part of the settlement reached between Pikoli and the state at the weekend. He will receive a once-off payment of R7,5 million, and the state will also pay his legal expenses.

Pikoli might also be welcomed back into government soon, since the settlement stipulates that the country’s former NDPP will consider an offer from the state to accept a senior position.

In the plea agreement, the state acknowledges that Pikoli is “professionally competent”, “sufficiently experienced”, “conscientious”, and has the “required integrity” to be appointed to such a post.

According to information, discussions are currently being held for the purpose of offering Pikoli an appropriate and suitably se­nior position, although no offer is on the table yet.

Moosajee explained that Pikoli “insists” that former president Thabo Mbeki’s interference in his work as national prosecuting chief led to his dismissal.

“This man [Pikoli] has taken an incredibly principled stance. However, there was no assurance that his application would be successful.”

If the application, which was submitted to the high court in Pretoria, had succeeded, there were indications that the state would have appealed.

“And, after that, there’s the Constitutional Court and an extensive process lasting between 18 and 24 months. However, the reality is actually that Pikoli hasn’t been earning a salary since February, he hasn’t been able to look for work, and he couldn’t accept any offers.”

The state’s admission that, just as the Ginwala commission found, Pikoli’s integrity and competence are above suspicion, according to Moosajee, has restored his reputation and credibility.

The fact that the settlement rightly confirms the indepen­dence of the legal authority, also satisfied Pikoli.

Pikoli’s reluctance to carry on with the case is apparently also rooted in the constitutional decree that the president is the one to appoint the NDPP.

Government spokespersons yesterday said there is not yet any indication as to when President Jacob Zuma will appoint a new NDPP. Mokotedi Mpshe is currently serving as acting NDPP.

DA judiciary spokeswoman Dene Smuts repeated her party’s appeal that candidates must be recommended to the president by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), as is the case with judges.

“Pikoli might feel that his integrity … [has] been restored by the state, but the plea agreement is hardly a victory for the Constitution and the supre­macy of the judiciary.”

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