NPA witness' evidence 'extraordinary'

2013-01-14 22:29
Glynnis Breytenbach (Picture: Beeld)

Glynnis Breytenbach (Picture: Beeld)

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Pretoria - A witness who accused suspended NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach of colluding with another lawyer was questioned on Monday.

"This witness has given the most extraordinary evidence," Breytenbach's counsel Wim Trengove said during her disciplinary hearing in Pretoria.

"He has come here to present all of these papers... in relation to which no findings were found [by a judge] and gave his conclusion."

Trengove was cross-examining the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) witness Ronald Mendelow, the lawyer for Imperial Crown Trading (ICT).

He said Mendelow had very little personal knowledge of Breytenbach's situation.

The NPA suspended Breytenbach on 30 April 2012, for allegedly failing to act impartially in her investigation of a dispute between ICT and Sishen/Kumba Iron Ore over mining rights in the Northern Cape.

This was after Mendelow sent a letter of complaint about Breytenbach to then National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane on 31 October 2011.

In the letter, Mendelow claimed she favoured Sishen in her probe and had an improper relationship with Sishen's lawyer Mike Hellens.

Mendelow first testified at the hearing in August last year. He alleged that Hellens had undue influence over Breytenbach in her investigation.

Earlier, while being questioned by NPA counsel William Makhari, Mendelow accused Breytenbach and the investigating officer in the ICT case, Lieutenant Colonel Sandra van Wyk, of covering up the role Hellens played.

"[Hellens'] role was disingenuous and disguised in Lieutenant Colonel van Wyk's affidavit," Mendelow said.

"It was disguised because it was highly improper for legal counsel to draw up warrants and lodge affidavits."

He was testifying on how Hellens had drafted search warrants on behalf of police officers. It was clear Hellens had drafted affidavits on behalf of Van Wyk, and a criminal complaint laid by Kumba against ICT, as the two documents were similar in style and content.

Mendelow said Van Wyk had failed to disclose Hellens' involvement.

Serious allegations

Mendelow compiled two documents, which were handed in at the hearing. They contained Van Wyk's and Breytenbach's affidavits regarding the investigation. He pointed out areas where there were contradictions.

Trengove said Mendelow, who continued to accuse Breytenbach and Van Wyk of collusion, was coming to his own conclusions.

This was after Judge Hennie Lacock, in his judgment in the Northern Cape High Court last year, found that an attempt to settle the serious allegations against Breytenbach would be tantamount to "jungle justice".

The judgment was given during an application by ICT to have search-and-seizure warrants against it set aside.

Trengove said: "You come to conclusions which the judge said were impossible [to come to].

"The judge knew Mike Hellens, Mrs Breytenbach and Lieutenant Colonel Van Wyk worked together to put an affidavit together. You don't have a clue what input Mrs Breytenbach and Lieutenant Colonel Van Wyk put into drafting an affidavit."

Breytenbach has argued that acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba suspended her in an attempt to stop her from prosecuting former police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli on fraud and other charges.

She has pleaded not guilty to 16 charges brought against her by the NPA.

Trengove spent the last part of Monday afternoon questioning Mendelow about the background relating to the case ICT.

His cross-examination continues at 10:00 on Tuesday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    npa  |  nomgcobo jiba  |  glynnis breytenbach
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