News24

Law society condemns prosecutor attacks

2012-05-03 14:49

Johannesburg - The Law Society of SA (LSSA) on Thursday condemned recent attacks against a prosecutor, as well as the "muted response" from key institutions.

"Members of the legal profession - whether they be judges, attorneys, advocates or prosecutors - should be able to carry out their professional duties without fear of intimidation or harm," LSSA co-chairs Krish Govender and Jan Stemmett said.

"The LSSA strongly condemns the reported recent attacks against a member of the prosecution service and the muted response to these by some key institutions."

When asked if the LSSA was referring to reports of shots being fired at suspended prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, Govender said he did not want to name specific cases.

Govender said the society had wanted to adopt a position which would apply to any situation where lawyers were under attack.

"We wouldn't want to venture into the specifics of any case," he said.

Institutions and the government should condemn such attacks in the strongest possible terms and ensure the culprits were brought to book, the LSSA said.

Undermines the rule of law


Attacks against prosecutors or their staff undermined the rule of law, the society warned. If left unchallenged, this could lead to a climate of lawlessness.

"The LSSA urges the relevant government institutions to guarantee the independence and security of all lawyers, including prosecutors, and that measures are taken to ensure that the persons responsible for attacks against lawyers acting in their line of duty are brought to justice," said Govender and Stemmett.

Beeld newspaper reported on Wednesday that Breytenbach said her car was shot at on April 11 while she was driving home on the N14 highway. On April 25, two bikers on BMW motorbikes allegedly tried to force her off the road, she said.

Breytenbach is the regional head of the National Prosecuting Authority in Gauteng's specialised commercial crime unit.

She was investigating, among other cases, fraud and corruption allegations against crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, before being suspended.

Targeted

This has led to concern that she was being targeted for her involvement in the case.

The NPA said at the time there was no link between Breytenbach's suspension and the Mdluli case.

She reported both incidents to the Hawks, but not to the police because she could not see who her assailants were.

"If it was an attempt to intimidate me, it was not successful," she told Beeld.

Hawks spokesperson Colonel McIntosh Polela confirmed Breytenbach reported the shooting immediately after it took place. The NPA said it was looking into ways to help Breytenbach following the incidents.

"We are concerned about her life being at risk, but also worried that the matter was never reported to our security and risk unit because she is still an NPA employee, although on suspension," spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said.

"We'll follow up the matter with the relevant unit to see how best to assist her," he said.