'Illogical that Pikoli should return'

2008-12-08 13:22

Pretoria - It was "illogical" that suspended prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli should return to office, President Kgalema Motlanthe told journalists at a briefing in Pretoria.

This was after the contents of the Ginwala Inquiry, which looked into the conduct of Pikoli, was released on Monday.

The report found that the applicant could return to his job.

However Motlanthe came to a decision that Pikoli be relieved of his duties, citing that Pikoli had not paid sufficient attention to national security.

He reiterated that the report assisted the president in his decision, adding that he would communicate the decision to parliament within 30 days.

Clear conscience

"I've taken this decision with a clear conscience," Motlanthe said.

Motlanthe said Pikoli's professional competence was not in question.

"However it should be noted that the requisite skills would necessarily include professional competence as well as those outlined by the inquiry in particular, appreciation for and sensitivity to, matters of national security."

According to the NPA Act, Motlanthe will communicate his decision and all relevant background information to Parliament within 30 days. Parliament then either confirms or rejects Motlanthe's decision.

Former president Thabo Mbeki suspended Pikoli on September 23 last year, citing a breakdown in relations between Pikoli and former justice minister Brigitte Mabandla and a poor appreciation of national security among the terms of reference for a later inquiry into his fitness to hold office.

Pikoli however said it was because his office planned to arrest National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi for corruption.

The inquiry itself held that the case for a breakdown in relations had not been established and their interaction was marred by differences in understanding of the respective duties and responsibilities of each office with regard to the prosecuting authority.

These could be overcome by "collegial discussion" Ginwala recommended.

Justice department director general Menzi Simelane was criticised, with the report saying: "In general his conduct left much to be desired. His testimony was contradictory and without basis in fact and in law."

National security criticism

During the inquiry Pikoli had to defend himself on his approach to national security.

He had to answer for the lack of security accreditation for his officials tasked with searching former deputy president Jacob Zuma's office during investigations against him and that he appeared to ignore a draft report known as the "Browse Mole" report, alleging a foreign-funded coup to bring Zuma to power.

The prosecutions authority's entering into plea bargain arrangements with people involved in organised crime was also queried.

During the inquiry, Ginwala heard that Mbeki, who resigned in September partly over inferences of an inappropriately close relationship with prosecution authorities, had needed time to make security arrangements before Selebi was arrested.

Mbeki said he needed two weeks and Pikoli had offered one.

- SAPA

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