NPA boss fight goes to ConCourt

2013-06-30 08:00

The Constitutional Court will tomorrow be asked to declare unconstitutional President Jacob Zuma’s failure to appoint a national director of public prosecutions (NDPP).

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) says it will file papers in the land’s highest court.

Last week, City Press reported that the DA had given Zuma until the end of July to appoint the NDPP or face possible legal action.

But Casac this week revealed that it had already written to Zuma in May about taking him to court over the NDPP post.

This letter has gone unanswered.

Lawson Naidoo, executive director of Casac, said the council “deliberately didn’t make (the letter) public because we didn’t want to debate the presidency in public ... We thought, let us give them an opportunity to respond and they unfortunately decided not to.

“We said we were reluctant to take this route, but we can’t stand by while the president fails in his executive functions and does not even see fit to afford us an acknowledgement of the letter, let alone a substantive response.”

Naidoo said Casac was taking action because the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had been without a permanent head for 18 months.

“We’ve seen the NPA lurch from one crisis to the next because of a paucity of leadership,” said Naidoo.

Casac’s case is based on a section of the Constitution that requires that all “constitutional obligations must be performed diligently and without delay”.

James Selfe, federal chairman of the DA, said the party would be watching the planned court action very closely.

The case comes as Nomgcobo Jiba, whom Zuma appointed acting head of the NPA in 2011, launched another salvo in her bitter legal battle with senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach.

On Thursday, Jiba filed an affidavit in which she accused Breytenbach of making the “untruthful and unsubstantiated” allegation that she was suspended to protect former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

Breytenbach is asking the Labour Court to urgently order Jiba to reinstate her in her old position as regional head of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU) in Pretoria.

Breytenbach has returned to work, but Jiba will not allow her to return to her position because she claims that new charges against the prosecutor are being investigated.

In her affidavit before the Labour Court, Breytenbach repeats the allegation that she was suspended to protect Mdluli from prosecution.

But Jiba has responded to this, by saying there is no truth to the allegations.

“It appears that (Breytenbach) is determined to persist with these defamatory allegations against me in order to tarnish both my name as the head of the NPA and to place the NPA into disrepute in the media and in the public domain, when she has not produced evidence to the effect and when the chairperson did not make any such finding,” said Jiba.

She also says that she had decided to take legal advice about the allegations, including their implications in employment law.

Breytenbach was previously cleared by a disciplinary hearing of a similar charge related to Mdluli and Jiba, when she was found not guilty of all fifteen charges the NPA initially brought against her.

The findings of the disciplinary hearing are the subject of a separate Labour Court challenge by the NPA.

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