News24

FXI waits for Pikoli submission

2010-06-02 17:06

Johannesburg - The Freedom of Expression Institute has still not been able to see the justice department's submissions to the 2008 Ginwala Inquiry, which it says it needs to assess the fitness of Menzi Simelane, who was DG of the department and is now public prosecutions head.

The institute had been told it contains information which could cause prejudice to security in South Africa - a decision it intended appealing, the FXI said in a statement on Wednesday.

The inquiry came about when former National Director of Public Prosecutions Vusi Pikoli was suspended by former president Thabo Mbeki for not backing down on the prosecution of former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

All the parties made submissions to chairperson Frene Ginwala before the hearings. Questions were put to witnesses, including Simelane, during the hearings.

He detailed how the department and minister interacted with Mbeki and Pikoli over the matter and the department's interpretation of a law, according to which the NDPP was independent and nobody else could have a hand in prosecutorial decisions.

Mbeki's submission was that he had wanted more time to brief security forces who may lash out after Selebi's arrest, but Pikoli felt he needed to move faster than the two weeks Mbeki asked for.

Greater plan

After the inquiry in May 2008, Ginwala said although she agreed with one of the points - that Pikoli did not fully appreciate security matters - she could not find he was unfit for office.

However, in the aftermath of a presidential reshuffle which saw Mbeki ousted, Pikoli was fired and eventually replaced by Simelane.

Some observers saw these developments as part of a greater plan to neuter the NDPP, which was also pursuing corruption charges against now President Jacob Zuma.

The FXI lodged the application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, saying the Constitution gave the public the right to receive the information, and that it would not threaten security.

The DA was meanwhile challenging Simelane's appointment in court, arguing it was irrational and made with an ulterior motive. 

Selebi, who was eventually put on trial for fraud and corruption, was currently waiting for judgment on the case.