Jacob Zuma’s NPA man charged with misconduct

2013-06-02 14:01

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

After intense lobbying, Magistrate Stanley Gumede receives misconduct charges.

Stanley Gumede, the regional magistrate allegedly picked by President Jacob Zuma to lead the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), has been formally charged with misconduct by the Magistrates’ Commission.

After a week of heavy criticism levelled against the NPA, City Press can reveal that the commission’s investigations panel has decided to push ahead with formal misconduct charges against Gumede, the Pinetown chief magistrate understood to be Zuma’s number one choice to become the country’s fourth national director of public prosecutions.

The NPA has been without a permanent head since December 2011.

Despite recently losing a number of high-profile court cases and suffering a resounding defeat in its disciplinary hearing against top prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach this week, the NPA says there is no crisis.

Spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said their critics were “nit-pick(ing) a few select cases without acknowledging the overall successful performance in hundreds of thousands of other cases”.

At the same time, former NPA head Vusi Pikoli blamed “blatant” political influence for the “blurring of lines within the NPA in carrying out its duties”.

Pikoli was fired from his job after being cleared by the Ginwala Commission of Inquiry.

“The two biggest problems are a lack of leadership and political pressure, which is glaring,” said Pikoli.

On Monday Breytenbach, the head of the NPA’s commercial crimes unit in Pretoria, was found not guilty by Advocate Selby Mbenenge on 15 disciplinary charges.

City Press has reliably learnt that the Breytenbach case has set back the cash-strapped NPA by at least R3 million.

A week ago the NPA told Parliament it had a budget shortfall of R200 million. Currently, all vacancies in the NPA are frozen and the aspirant prosecutor programme has been shelved.

Makeke defended spending millions on Breytenbach’s disciplinary hearing, saying outside counsel come at a cost.

“As an institution, the NPA has as much right to appoint senior counsel as the employee has to make sure that the level of skills is on par,” she said.

The NPA has indicated that it will take Mbenenge’s ruling on review. Breytenbach is scheduled to meet her bosses on Wednesday to discuss a way for her to return to work.

Gumede was served with a set of charges by the Magistrates’ Commission on Wednesday after a charge sheet had been drawn up.

The commission has come under fire from Gumede’s backers for the length of time it had taken to process complaints against him, some of which date back nine years.

Gumede is understood to be in the process of formally responding to the allegations brought against him by prosecutors who had argued cases before him in the Pinetown Regional Court.

Commission secretary Danie Schoeman confirmed on Friday that a formal misconduct investigation was taking place involving Gumede, who remains at work while the probe is being concluded.

“At this stage I can confirm that the commission has decided to charge him with misconduct. A charge sheet has been drafted, finalised and served on him,” Schoeman said.

Schoeman declined to provide any further details while the investigation was ongoing.

The DA says it will go to court if Zuma appoints Gumede, who the party claims had a “long history of acting completely inappropriately in his court”.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj told City Press that the matter of appointing heads for the NPA and Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was under consideration by Zuma.

NPA sources told City Press the only obstacles to appointing Gumede were the charges before the commission.

“We know that as soon as this is over and done with at the commission, the man is going to be appointed. It’s done,” said a senior NPA advocate.

“There is no real substance to the complaints. They are about the way he deals with prosecutors who are not up to the job. Once they are resolved, everything is ready for his appointment.”

Durban attorney and activist Comfort Ngidi, who wrote to the commission requesting that it resolve Gumede’s case in the interest of fairness, said he was pleased that the matter was going ahead.

“What we wanted was fairness. If there are complaints against a jurist, let them be heard quickly in the interests of maintaining the credibility of our legal system,” Ngidi said.

Gumede was not available for comment.

Pikoli said a new head was desperately needed to restore the dignity of the NPA.

“This person needs to be strongly independent, impartial and must not buckle under undue political pressure.”

» City Press understands that Durban Advocate Guido Penzhorn was no longer the only person in the running for the top SIU job.

Zuma was now also considering the reinstated SIU deputy head, Faiek Davids, after learning that Penzhorn had acted for the NPA in matters against him (Zuma) and Schabir Shaik, say justice sector sources.

– Additional reporting by Adriaan Basson

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.