Pikoli ruling welcomed
Cape Town - Opposition parties welcomed the court ruling on Tuesday barring President Jacob Zuma from appointing a successor to axed prosecutions chief Vusi Pikoli pending the outcome of his legal bid to be reinstated.
The African National Congress merely said in a terse one-line statement that it "accepts and respects" the Pretoria High Court ruling, which Zuma said he would study.
"We are looking at the judgment. I can't prejudge what will happen at the end of it”, [the application to be heard in November] the president told media in Pretoria.
Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille hailed the ruling by Judge Ben du Plessis as a "victory for Pikoli".
Pikoli was suspended by then president Thabo Mbeki in 2007 and finally fired by his successor Kgalema Motlanthe in December.
Zuma cited a lack of sensitivity to national security matters, but Pikoli maintains that he was sidelined for political reasons after bringing corruption charges against former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.
Said De Lille: "We in the ID welcome this victory for Vusi Pikoli, who by refusing to give in to political pressure while he was the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) head has shown that he is a man of admirable integrity.
"Zuma is the third president after Mbeki and Motlanthe to harass Pikoli for doing his job properly and the president must now allow Pikoli to exhaust the legal processes, just like he himself has done on many, many occasions."
De Lille warned that whatever the Pretoria High Court's eventual finding, Zuma should remember that "Pikoli has the right to go to the High Court, the Supreme Court of Appeal and finally the Constitutional Court".
In his written judgment, Du Plessis said Pikoli had established a case "on a prima facie basis that, if proved finally, will entitle him the relief sought".
The judge said appointing a successor at this stage would adversely affect Pikoli's rights.
Democratic Alliance justice spokesperson Dene Smuts said the opposition felt vindicated by the ruling because it had long argued that Pikoli had been wronged.
"In the judge's view a prime facie case has been established that his removal was not authorised by law. All opposition parties sitting on the ad hoc committee that considered Vusi Pikoli's sacking questioned the legality of the process."