Breytenbach lawyer questions ICT attorney’s Kumba forgery claims

2013-01-15 14:00

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The attorney for politically connected mining company Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) has been accused of “creating theories” in the witness box.

Lawyer Ronnie Mendelow is under cross-examination by Advocate Wim Trengove SC, acting on behalf of suspended prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, in her disciplinary hearing.

Mendelow and ICT lodged the complaint against Breytenbach with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), which led to her suspension.

They claim that Breytenbach was one-sided in her fraud investigation against ICT, which followed a criminal complaint by rival mining company Kumba Iron Ore.

Kumba complained that ICT had forged its application for a 21% mining right at the Sishen iron ore mine in the Northern Cape. The right was originally awarded to ICT – partly owned by President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane and the Gupta family – by the department of mineral resources (DMR).

But this was set aside by the North Gauteng High Court last year.

Breytenbach was the prosecutor assigned to the criminal investigation against ICT, whose application contained numerous forged documents.

Kumba accuses ICT of copying their application, while ICT accuses Kumba of secretly accessing its application after it had been lodged and tampering with it.

Trengove is trying to show that Breytenbach had a legitimate reason to investigate ICT.

Under cross-examination, Mendelow often directly accused Kumba and its former employee, Godfrey Mfetoane (who also previously worked for the DMR), of secretly faking ICT’s application.

When Trengove asked him what he based this view on, Mendelow said his conclusion was based on “circumstantial evidence and probabilities”.

He said ICT’s application “screamed of forgery” but that this was done by Kumba.

The hearing is set down for two weeks.

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