Pikoli recommendations ignored

2008-12-08 14:41
<B>President Kgalema Motlanthe explains the decision that suspended prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli be relieved of his duties. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)</b>

President Kgalema Motlanthe explains the decision that suspended prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli be relieved of his duties. (Werner Beukes, Sapa)

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Pretoria - President Kgalema Motlanthe has decided to ignore the recommendation of former Speaker of the National Assembly Frene Ginwala that the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Vusi Pikoli, should be restored to office. Instead, he has decided to dismiss him.

Ginwala found that the government had not proved its case against Pikoli, but made some remarks about his insensitivity to issues of national security. The president has seized on these remarks to relieve Pikoli of his responsibilities.

Motlanthe described Ginwala's recommendation to keep Pikoli on as "illogical".

"Were you to read the full report you will see that it is illogical," he told a media briefing on Monday.

However, one recommendation of Ginwala's - that the conduct of the director general of Justice, Menzi Simelane, left much to be desired - has been acted on. The president has requested the Minister of Justice, Enver Surty, to "follow the matter up", though he would not actually say he wanted the man fired.

'Baseless' allegations

In the report of her inquiry into the fitness of Pikoli to hold office as director of public prosecutions, Ginwala said that "several of the allegations levelled against Advocate Pikoli were shown to be baseless".

She further insisted: "I am not of the opinion that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship between the minister and Advocate Pikoli."

She said such differences as there were could have been overcome through "collegial discussion" and the establishment of formal channels of communication.

The government, she said, failed to produce evidence to show that the cases of plea and sentence agreements it cited had contravened the prosecution policy. Nor, she said, was Pikoli obliged to account to the director general of Justice in the way the government alleged.

But she did say that she found issues of concern in the capacity and understanding of Pikoli to carry out his responsibilities.

"These relate primarily to his understanding of issues pertaining to national security and his lack of appreciation of the political environment in which the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) needs to operate," she said.

Ginwala also made it clear that she did not believe Pikoli when he said he was suspended because of the action he proposed to take against the national commissioner, Jackie Selebi.

Discussions with Mbeki

She said her most serious concerns arise from the evidence of discussions between Pikoli and former president Thabo Mbeki just prior to Pikoli's suspension.

"Advocate Pikoli did not give due consideration to the actions the president might need to take in order to defuse a potential security crisis and instability, and to preserve the country's international reputation," Ginwala said. "He did not take seriously the president's concerns about the mood of the (police service) and their possible reaction to the arrest of the national commissioner."

Motlanthe quoted what she said about Pikoli being asked to give the president two weeks to sort things out before he acted. Pikoli replied: "No, I give you one week."

"Had this been presented as a reason for the suspension, when his conduct would have held a real risk of undermining national security, I would not have hesitated to find the reason to be legitimate," she said in her report. "However these were not among the reasons put forward by government before the inquiry."

Representations

Motlanthe told the media conference that he invited Pikoli to make representations to him especially with regard to the adverse findings made against him.

"I formed a view that Advocate Pikoli's representations exhibited a failure on his part to acknowledge the serious deficiencies identified by the inquiry," he said.

The president's decision will now be communicated to Parliament, which in any case will have the last say in the matter. Motlanthe said that the law requires him to give his decision to Parliament within 30 days. He said, however he would be able to do it by the end of this week.

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