Gerrie Nel: Impossible to link politics to private prosecution

2017-05-12 12:59
Gerrie Nel (Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24

Gerrie Nel (Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24

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Cape Town - "It is impossible to link political motives to private prosecution, because the basic principle of justice is that everyone is equal in terms of the law. "

This is according to Advocate Gerrie Nel, who heads AfriForum’s private prosecutions unit.

He addressed the Cape Town Business Chamber on Thursday, Netwerk24 reported.

Nel was the former State prosecutor and resigned in February after 35 years with the National Prosecuting Authority, during which time he successfully prosecuted athlete Oscar Pistorius for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Nel explained how he was initially sceptical about private prosecutions. Like a typical lawyer, he'd thought it wouldn’t work.

"Everyone who practises law in South Africa is conservative. So if there is something new, people balk at it. I received a call from AfriForum's Kallie Kriel and then started mulling over the concept. I knew it was necessary, I just didn’t think it could work," Nel said.

He then read about a private prosecution involving the SPCA.

'Excited'

"I realised it was necessary, and the time was ripe for it. I started getting excited. You get excited about something like this and feel it has to happen.

"I am a normal prosecutor and then came the media storm. Initially the response was all negative, with people reading some kind of motive into it. And because it was AfriForum, they believed there was a political motive. As they started understanding more about it, their negative perceptions started changing.

"I say it is impossible to link politics to private prosecution. The NPA has the first option to prosecute. If you can prove me wrong, please do so," Nel said.

He explained that if the NPA decided not to prosecute and AfriForum was of the opinion that there was a case to be made, they it could approach the NPA and apply for a nolle prosequi certificate.

The certificate allows anyone to prosecute in his or her own name. 

Criminal justice system strong

Nel believes the country’s criminal justice system remains strong and that the independence of the judiciary is being promoted.

"I remember how many times I drove to the Appeals Court Bloemfontein... and there are clever men and women in that building. The law is a process, not a case. We must see it in that light.

"We initially worried about Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, but now we have to admit that he is an incredible judge," said Nel.

Read more on:    afriforum  |  npa  |  gerrie nel  |  judiciary

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