News24

NPA out to nail Breytenbach - lawyer

2012-07-25 22:47

Pretoria - The NPA set out to "nail" its prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach when it suspended her, her disciplinary hearing in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.

"It's a hatchet job; they were out to nail her," her counsel Wim Trengove said.

He accused the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of not affording Breytenbach an opportunity to defend herself before she was suspended on April 30.

He was cross-examining Hercules Wasserman, acting senior manager of the NPA's integrity management unit, at the authority's offices in Silverton.

Wasserman said he told Breytenbach at a meeting on 18 April that she had until 25 April to respond to the accusations against her.

Wasserman's unit was asked to investigate Breytenbach after a complaint by Mendelow Jacobs Attorneys on behalf of Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) in December last year.

This related to a dispute between ICT and Sishen/Kumba Iron Ore over mining rights, which Breytenbach investigated.

Wasserman then filed a report on his findings with acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Nomgcobo Jiba on 20 April, five days before Breytenbach's deadline to submit her side of the story.

"You render a final report on the 20th, and apparently on the strength of it the NDPP decides to suspend advocate Breytenbach without her ever been given the opportunity to put [forward] her side of the case?" Trengove asked.

Wasserman conceded this was what had happened.

Trengove questioned why no other people involved in the complaint against Breytenbach were asked for their version of events.

"You only gathered incriminating evidence. You did nothing whatsoever to get the other side of the story," Trengove said.

Wasserman responded: "It was not my brief."

Trengove's rapid-fire cross-examination flustered Wasserman, who at one time asked chairperson Sandile July to intervene.

Improper relationship

Breytenbach, who arrived at her hearing wearing a purple hat, jersey and scarf, played on her laptop during testimony, and smiled at times when Trengove made a point.

Trengove questioned the value of Wasserman's evidence that e-mails between Breytenbach and Mike Hellens, senior counsel for Kumba, amounted to unethical conduct.

On Tuesday, Wasserman testified the e-mails indicated Hellens drafted affidavits for Breytenbach, which was particularly concerning as they related to a criminal matter.

But Trengove pointed out that Breytenbach had already testified in an affidavit in February that Hellens had helped her.

"The fact that he played some part in the preparation of that affidavit has always been common cause... Advocate Breytenbach made that clear in early February this year."

The NPA alleges Breytenbach acted impartially in favouring Sishen over ICT in her probe, and that she had an improper relationship with Hellens.

Wasserman admitted he did not interview Hellens or police officer Lieutenant Colonel Sandra van Wyk, who was also involved in drawing up the affidavit.

Trengove then questioned how the NPA could have announced in City Press and on Radio 702 on 2 February that Breytenbach had been suspended, without telling her first.

Wasserman said he was only aware at the time of a letter of intention to suspend.

Trengove questioned whether NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga was facing disciplinary charges for confirming these untrue statements to the media. Wasserman said he did not know.

Reckless testimony

Earlier, Trengove accused Wasserman of going beyond his mandate to "rustle up" charges.

"You trawled far and wide through her personal correspondence to rustle up other charges."

Wasserman's unit had accessed Breytenbach's e-mails on the NPA server.

Trengove asked Wasserman if his unit had done anything other than go through Breytenbach's e-mails to investigate ICT's complaint.

Wasserman admitted they had not.

Breytenbach faces charges including gross insubordination and improper conduct for allegedly not handing over her work laptop to the NPA, and for having information on it deleted.

Wasserman told the hearing he had assured Breytenbach her personal information would be treated with sensitivity when she refused to hand over the laptop.

Trengove said instead investigators used personal information to draw up further charges. This included using Breytenbach's application for car finance in 2009, in which she listed under "other income" that she earned R4 000 a month for renting out a flat and stabling a horse.

She was consequently charged with performing work outside the NPA.

Trengove said Wasserman's testimony that evidence was deleted from the laptop was "reckless".

"It's a highly incriminating statement to make... it was reckless and misleading."

Impossible to know

Wasserman told the hearing on Tuesday: "A forensic report... found that certain evidence was intentionally destroyed and deleted from the laptop."

Trengove asked on Wednesday how Wasserman could have known that what was deleted was evidence.

Wasserman said 508 files were deleted, but the forensic report indicated these were not retrievable, so it was impossible to know their content.

"You had no basis for your evidence that what was deleted was evidence."

Trengove said Wasserman had omitted to tell the hearing that nothing had been deleted from the laptop before 30 April the day Breytenbach was suspended.

A mirror copy of the hard drive was made in the presence of two NPA officials, before files "of a personal nature" were deleted. The officials had declined an offer for a copy of the hard drive, Trengove said.

Wasserman said: "It wasn't brought to my attention."

Breytenbach has pleaded not guilty to 16 charges brought against her.

The hearing continues on Thursday at 10:00.

Comments
  • sharon.erwin.96 - 2012-07-25 23:05

    What a joke. Renting out a flat and stabling a horse! She is not a director in a comapny getting government tenders!!! How stupid you look, NPA!!! I am laughing my face off at you.

      sean.lambie.3 - 2012-07-25 23:48

      Once again just goes to show how pathetic they are ! Biggest problem is that she is white ! Anything white or anything to do with the Western Cape will be nailed by the ANC ! But if their ``brothers`` rob the country blind , it is no problem ! F@cken bunch of imbeciles !

      marnus.coetzee.56 - 2012-07-26 05:45

      Yes, the NPA are looking just as stupid as their ANC-government, their master's voice. Again, the whistle blower is persecuted and harrassed and criminalised, while the real criminals are being sanctified and protected by abuse of the system. Zooma has loaded all the dice in favour of his own peanut gallery. The rape of the justice system goes on.

      Armand - 2012-07-26 07:42

      Yes Sharon, and that was why they didn't want the media there to report on how stupid they look after the truth come out.

  • bob.small.7547 - 2012-07-25 23:35

    This is plain skullduggery on the NPA’s part to try and silence their own prosecutor, who just happened to be an efficient and proactive employee who was just doing her job properly. This is an effort by the NPA hierarchy to try and protect some corrupt ANC cadres which she was out to expose and nail….! Senior heads need to roll over this fiasco.

      sean.lambie.3 - 2012-07-25 23:48

      @bob - I agree 200% !

      press.enter.12 - 2012-07-26 02:45

      All this time its costing Adv Breytenbach money to hire Trengove to defend her against these trumped up charges - I hope she takes them to court afterwards to sue them for malicious prosecution and reclaim every penny she had to spend. But why haven't the NPA produced any evidence so far that deals with the main charge of insubordination ? And how do they plan to get around the audi alteram partem principle which they clearly disregarded ? So far they have provided "evidence" of her telling a journalist about cat food, performing "work" by hiring out her flat, deleting unspecified files (whilst she offered them a copy of the hard drive with all the contents intact and files deleted was done after she was suspended), not handing over her laptop - which she did, and lied about the fact that they will not rummage through her private stuff on the computer - which was legally on her computer in any case, and working with an Advocate in the Imperial ANC heavyweights case which she informed them of long before she was suspended. Hang your head in shame NPA.

  • atholl.canterbury - 2012-07-25 23:35

    Wasserman .... assured Breytenbach her personal information would be treated with sensitivity (before) when she refused to hand over the laptop. ..... so .... Wasserman .... used Breytenbach's (personal) information ...application for car finance in 2009, in which she listed under "other income" that she earned R4 000 a month for renting out a flat and stabling a horse.... ... so they want to prosecute the {{public}} prosecutor for {{personal}} information that they never knew of (they sniffed the air) and for other information that she either willing testified to on affidavit --- or was deleted - but they knew that because it was deleted it must have been prosecutable. ....... really ?

  • rontheogre - 2012-07-26 00:40

    Amazing how the trolls baying for her to be fired on this forum are suddenly so quiet as the NPA's case is being ripped apart piece by piece as a bungling set up job. We should actually thank the idiots that initiated this attempt to discredit Breytenbach as they have now, yet again, created a platform where their butts are being handed to them in aces and spades. Will they never learn that the truth will prevail.

  • madulla.nkosi - 2012-07-26 00:44

    The credibility of the NPA is slowly slipping deeper and deeper into the quagmire of disrepute. When this case has run it's course, the NPA will have NO credibility left at all. All brought about by the NPA itself.... Talk about shooting yourself in both left feet ........eina ..!!

      devon.riley.52 - 2012-07-26 04:33

      And this is the same NPA that decides who will be prosecuted and who not. And this the NPA that is clearly politivally influenced, it begs the questions just how many criminals are escaping prosecution due to political connections. I am afraid to say that it appears that justice has been seriously compromised in SA, and we have a very serious problem.

  • ian.flack2 - 2012-07-26 04:58

    From a previous article .... "If the general public loses their confidence in the criminal justice system, we've got a problem." ...............You're a little bit too late mate !!!! ............. I lay my case

  • marnus.coetzee.56 - 2012-07-26 05:44

    Yes, the NPA are looking just as stupid as their ANC-government, their master's voice. Again, the whistle blower is persecuted and harrassed and criminalised, while the real criminals are being sanctified and protected by abuse of the system. Zooma has loaded all the dice in favour of his own peanut gallery. The rape of the justice system goes on.

      ron.lawrance - 2012-07-26 07:55

      Zapiro saw that coming in his sketch back in 2008!!!

  • tumelo.mabua - 2012-07-26 06:10

    Has anyone been arrested for the assassination attempt of Breytenbach?

      tumelo.mabua - 2012-07-26 09:12

      I just think insabordination and deleted emails aren't as serious as attempted murder! I'm no legal expert, I could be wrong!

      press.enter.12 - 2012-07-26 09:49

      And Tumelo I just hope you are not a civil servant that earns an income from rent on savings - you may be charged with performing outside work and insubordination . . . . . . .

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-07-26 06:16

    Trengrove et Breytenbach going to f*ck up NPA six love six love..GOOD !! This f*cking government and it's agents SUCK!

  • breinlekkasie.dodelikegif - 2012-07-26 06:26

    Reminds of the Kebble murder. Make provisions to get Selebi and both Agliotti and Selebi walk away free men.

  • andrew.mackie.90 - 2012-07-26 06:41

    This is part of our justice system who in my opinion are pathetic and I am not surprised it takes months for cases to be prepared for court. Like little children ganging up against one kid on the block. In fact the complainants in this case should be in the dock. What a joke!!

  • pws69 - 2012-07-26 07:02

    Hold onto your seats, this ride is going to get very bumpy (especially for the NPA I suspect). Abuse of state resources for party political ends. All to keep Mdluli out of jail and in control. This method has worked well for Mugarbage, who uses the JOC (Cops and military) to stay in power and fix elections.

  • terrence.schwartz.1 - 2012-07-26 07:14

    Go Glynnis Go, hit them for six like Amla did. Ja, ganging up on their own!!!!!

  • itumeleng.tshatiwa - 2012-07-26 07:14

    Advocate Breytenbach has a very smart minded legal practitioner...seems the NPA charges are fabricated for political scores

  • itumeleng.tshatiwa - 2012-07-26 07:14

    Advocate Breytenbach has a very smart minded legal practitioner...seems the NPA charges are fabricated for political scores

  • itumeleng.tshatiwa - 2012-07-26 07:15

    Advocate Breytenbach has a very smart minded legal practitioner...seems the NPA charges are fabricated for political scores

  • Eddie - 2012-07-26 07:21

    Adv Trengove defended me in a R2m defamation matter brought against me and the newspaper I had benn working for. All I can say is that the other party withdrew its action and paid all our costs following Trengove's cross examination of the other side's main witness! An attorney nogal! The man - Trengove - is brilliant. The NPA will find that out.

  • tshekiso.saul - 2012-07-26 07:42

    A pumpy ride for NPA indeed, and even Breytenbach. Even if u declare that the advocate u had to investigate assisted u in drafting avidaffits is criminal will stick out like a sour thumb in summer.

  • Shaun McDermott - 2012-07-26 07:51

    this breytenbach nonsense is getting boring now who bloody cares!

  • carla.vittori3 - 2012-07-26 09:43

    Just curious, but why is acting "impartially in favouring Sishen over ICT in her probe" an offence? Isn't that part of her mandate? To impartially investigate all matters brought to her before deciding whether or not to prosecute? And if she was found to have acted impartially after the complaint why is the NPA taking disciplinary action and not standing behind her? I would have thought that a finding favouring one party over another where the determination was impartial would lead one to conclude that there could not have been any unethical behaviour.

  • aubrey.christie - 2012-07-26 11:59

    A member, dear Mr wasserman of npa telling blatant lies makes you think does it not.These people have not a shred of ethics.

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