NPA respects Breytenbach ruling

2013-05-27 22:18
Glynnis Breytenbach (Picture: Beeld)

Glynnis Breytenbach (Picture: Beeld)

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Pretoria - The NPA respects a ruling made by a disciplinary hearing in favour of suspended prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, spokesperson Nomilo Mpondo said on Monday.

"We will study the ruling to determine the way forward," she said.

Breytenbach was found not guilty on 15 counts on Monday by a disciplinary hearing which sat at the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) head office in Pretoria.

"The guilt of the employee on this plethora of charges has not been established," said the hearing's chairperson Selby Mbenenge SC.

Breytenbach was also found not guilty on any of the alternative charges.

A core charge against the anti-graft prosecutor was failing to act impartially when investigating the Kumba Iron Ore/Sishen and Imperial Crown Trading mining rights issue, because of "improper relations" with Sishen's lawyer Mike Hellens.

Other charges included "surreptitiously leaking" NPA inside information to Beeld journalist Sonja Carstens; giving her official NPA laptop to her lawyer; and "maligning" the NPA in the media.

Breytenbach was suspended from the NPA on 30 April 2012.

She claimed acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba suspended her to stop her from prosecuting former police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli on fraud and other charges.

In March, a parallel arbitration hearing at the Public Service Bargaining Council, in Centurion, found Breytenbach's suspension was both procedurally and substantively fair.

Her lawyer Gerhard Wagenaar said it was still being considered whether to review or appeal the arbitration hearing decision.

Questionable

On Monday, Breytenbach was acquitted on five counts relating to allegations that Hellens influenced her, and that she allowed him to try to turn an accused - Imperial Crown Trading director Archie Luhlabo - into a State witness.

"There is not an iota of evidence that [Breytenbach] improperly attempted to obtain a confession from Mr Luhlabo by conspiring with Mr Hellens and [Nazeer Cassim SC] to do so," Mbenenge said.

"I do not, therefore, see my way clear in finding the employee guilty of misconduct on count one."

Mbenenge found there was no evidence to contradict Breytenbach's argument that she was always in control of the case and had remained objective.

She was acquitted on charges of misconduct relating to her work laptop and the information on it.

The NPA also charged her with bringing it into disrepute and contravening its media policy and public service regulations.

The NPA said that during interviews between February and June 2012 Breytenbach had stated that ulterior motives were behind her suspension.

"There is neither direct nor circumstantial evidence of the employee having conducted interviews to the media reporters and/or media houses concerning the reason [perceived or otherwise] for her suspension," Mbenenge said.

After hearing the finding Breytenbach hugged Wagenaar. He then read out a statement by her, in which she thanked everyone for their support.

"I am relieved that the chairperson saw the lack of justification in the charges laid against me," she said.

In the statement, she also said she intended returning to work if she was allowed to do so.

Political parties have praised the disciplinary hearing's finding.

"We call on the NPA to immediately re-instate her and allow her to continue with her work," Christian Democratic Party leader Theunis Botha said in a statement.

He said Breytenbach's suspension had been questionable from the outset, as some of the country’s most powerful politicians had been implicated in the matters involved.

"We strongly recommend that all outstanding matters be resolved as soon as possible," Botha said.

Democratic Alliance MP Dene Smuts also called for Breytenbach's immediate re-instatement.

"The once superb Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit had already suffered the loss of its leader, advocate Chris Jordaan, during the tenure of advocate Menzi Simelane as National Director of Public Prosecutions, when advocate Breytenbach was suspended," she said.

Smuts said Breytenbach had to be allowed to return to work.

Read more on:    da  |  npa  |  nomgcobo jiba  |  dene smuts  |  glynnis breytenbach  |  theunis botha

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