Zuma made errors with Simelane - judge
Bloemfontein - The appointment of National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane by President Jacob Zuma in November 2009 was invalid, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday.
The court found Zuma's decision was inconsistent with the Constitution if read with the National Prosecuting Authority Act.
The SCA made a unanimous decision to set the appointment of Simelane aside. The judgment follows an appeal by the Democratic Alliance against Simelane's appointment.
Earlier, the North Gauteng High Court found against the DA. The opposition party had contended Simelane was not a fit and proper person within the meaning of the requirements for the post as stipulated by law.
The party submitted Zuma did not, as he was required to do, properly interrogate Simelane's fitness for office.
The DA built its case on "the misleading and untruthful evidence" given by Simelane before the Ginwala inquiry, held in 2008 to probe the fitness for office of his predecessor, Vusumzi Pikoli.
The SCA held the matter before it was of national and constitutional importance.
"It involves an institution integral to the preservation and maintenance of the rule of law, namely the National Prosecuting Authority, which consists of the national director at the head of prosecutorial offices."
The SCA found Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Zuma made material errors of fact and law in the process leading to Simelane's appointment.
Radebe, the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), and Simelane were respondents in the appeal hearing. The court held Zuma did not conduct a proper inquiry into whether the objective requirements of the law, to appoint Simelane, were satisfied.
"On the available evidence the president could in any event not have reached a conclusion favourable to Mr Simelane, as there were too many unresolved questions concerning his integrity and experience," the judgment reads.
Judge Mohammed Navsa said although the president was a busy man, he should, when he dealing with an office as important as the NDPP, take the time to get it right.