Appoint NPA boss, Zuma told

2013-06-16 14:01

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Jiba will battle DA and Glynnis Breytenbach as both prepare to go to court

As the bitter standoff between ­senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach and her boss, Nomgcobo Jiba, dragged into its second week, the DA has threatened to go to court over Jiba’s position.

President Jacob Zuma and Jiba, the acting national director of public prosecutions, will have to put out fires on all sides as they face a raft of potential litigation over the troubled National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

On Friday, DA MP James Selfe wrote to Zuma and warned him that the party would resort to court ­action if he did not appoint a permanent head for the NPA by the end of next month.

Jiba will also face urgent court ­action this week over her insistence that Breytenbach be redeployed to a different unit of the NPA.

Two weeks ago, Breytenbach was cleared of all 15 disciplinary charges against her, but Jiba has refused to allow Breytenbach to return to her old post as head of the NPA’s Pretoria branch of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU).

Instead, Jiba wants Breytenbach to be redeployed to the office of the director of public prosecutions in Pretoria. Gerhard Wagenaar, Breytenbach’s attorney, yesterday confirmed that he would bring an urgent application to have Jiba’s ­decision set aside, and to allow Breytenbach to return to work at the SCCU.

Jiba has also applied to the ­Labour Court to have the findings of the NPA’s disciplinary hearing ­into Breytenbach overturned, asking the court to fire Breytenbach.

City Press understands that the NPA was also investigating three new charges against Breytenbach relating to two cases she had ­previously handled and a business venture.

If the DA has its way, Jiba’s stint as acting head of the NPA will be over by the end of July.

Jiba was appointed acting director of the NPA by Zuma in December 2011 after Menzi Simelane was placed on special leave over a constitutional challenge by the DA over his appointment.

The Constitutional Court subsequently declared Simelane’s appointment irrational.

In his letter to Zuma, Selfe says the fact that there has been no permanent head of the NPA is not only “undesirable” but unconstitutional.

“We respectfully suggest that the fact that you have not appointed a national director of public prosecutions more than eight months after the Constitutional Court’s ruling, and more than 18 months after ­Advocate Simelane was placed on special leave, constitutes a failure to discharge your obligations in terms ... of the Constitution ‘diligently and without delay’,” wrote Selfe.

Selfe urged the president to “make this appointment no later than July 31 2013, failing which we reserve the right to take appropriate measures at law to compel you to discharge your obligations in terms of the Constitution.”

Asked by City Press if this was an attempt by the DA to govern through the courts, Selfe said this was the government’s convenient excuse for their “abject inability to fulfil their constitutional ­responsibility”.

“If the government fails to ­discharge their constitutional ­responsibility, what else is one supposed to do? ... Its’s not like we don’t live in a constitutional state.”

The DA is also recommending that the Constitution be amended to curtail the powers of the president to ­appoint the national director of public prosecutions.

Zuma has approached Regional Pinetown Magistrate Stanley Gumede for the position of NPA head, but Gumede is still fighting off complaints about him to the Magistrate’s Commission.

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