Witness: Breytenbach leaked info to media

2012-07-25 15:57
Glynnis Breytenbach. Picture: Brendan Croft/Foto24

Glynnis Breytenbach. Picture: Brendan Croft/Foto24

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Pretoria - Suspended NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach leaked information to the media, a witness told her disciplinary hearing in Pretoria on Wednesday.

"During the analysis of the e-mails we stumbled upon e-mails between advocate Breytenbach and Sonja Carstens... in which they [have] had various interactions since 2007," National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) official Hercules Wasserman said.

His team found a number of e-mails between Breytenbach and Carstens, a reporter at Beeld, that indicated something other than a professional relationship, he said.

This was in breach of NPA policies, which prohibited employees from speaking to the media.

Internal matter

Wasserman, acting senior manager of the NPA's integrity management unit, said as an NPA employee himself it was important to adhere to the media policy.

"If the general public loses their confidence in the criminal justice system, we've got a problem."

Breytenbach's disciplinary hearing was an internal matter and nothing to do with the media, he said.

"Advocate Breytenbach is not the only senior officer in the NPA under investigation at the moment."

His unit was handling numerous cases, as it was a constitutional right to be able to ask the National Director of Public Prosecutions to review an investigation.

Other senior officers involved in high profile cases were also the subjects of disciplinary inquiries, but these were not covered by the media, Wasserman said.

"If all those employees were running to the media, we would have had havoc."

E-mails about dog food, SPCA

Breytenbach was not authorised to speak to the media on any issue, he said.

He read out various e-mails between Carstens and Breytenbach about dog food, the SPCA and the Facebook status of NPA spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga.

He said that on April 30, the day Breytenbach was suspended as regional head of the specialised commercial crime unit, she had allegedly said to an NPA employee: "Sonja Carstens wants to know: are you guys are going to suspend me or not?"

Wasserman said he had warned Breytenbach's attorney Gerhard Wagenaar that if he spoke to the media about the case, it would be seen as Breytenbach speaking.

Some of the charges Breytenbach was facing related to her bringing the NPA into disrepute by speaking to the media, either directly or via her attorney, without authorisation.

Wasserman's unit was asked to investigate Breytenbach following 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.

Breytenbach has pleaded not guilty to 16 charges brought against her by the NPA at the hearing at its offices in Silverton.

- SAPA

Read more on:    npa  |  glynnis breytenbach  |  richard mdluli
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