NPA out to ‘nail’ Breytenbach

2012-07-26 08:02

Lawyers for senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach have accused the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of an investigation “that was a one-sided attempt to nail her”.

In a bruising cross-examination yesterday, Wim Trengove, Breytenbach’s defence counsel, put it to the NPA’s first witness that the “only purpose of his investigation was to find evidence in support of a complaint (against Breytenbach)”.

The complaint Trengove was referring to was a grievance laid by ICT lawyer Ronnie Mandelow related to the mineral rights dispute between
Kumba-Sishen Iron Ore and Imperial Crown Trading (ICT).

The complaint alleged that Breytenbach, who was investigating Sishen’s forgery and fraud complaint against ICT, had “aligned herself” with Kumba lawyer Mike Hellens.

The complaint was laid by ICT lawyer Ronnie Mendelow.

Hercules Wasserman, an NPA investigator, had previously testified that he was mandated to determine whether this complaint was valid or not.

But yesterday Trengove forced Wasserman to concede that he had not interviewed Mike Hellens or the police investigating officer Colonel Sandra van Wyk about the drafting of an affidavit at the centre of charges against Breytenbach.

Wasserman said that he had no mandate to do so because they were not NPA employees.

But Trengove responded: “I thought your mandate was to determine whether the complaint (against Breytenbach) was valid or not?

“So in order to discharge your mandate you take Mendelow’s evidence but nobody else’s?”

Wasserman repeated that it was not his brief, but that somebody else involved in the legal side of the investigation may have done this.

Trengove also questioned the need for Wasserman to access Breytenbach’s email through the NPA server to access communications with Hellens.

Trengove asked in what way the the emails established “anything that was not already in the public record”.

He was referring to the fact that Breytenbach had already filed an affidavit in the Northern Cape High Court in which she said that Hellens had assisted her and the police investigating officer in the drafting of an affidavit.

This affidavit was filed in February, before the NPA authorised access to Breytenbach’s emails.

In the affidavit, Breytenbach stated that Hellens had assisted in the drafting of an affidavit, but that she and Colonel Sandra van Wyk had at all times retained control over the process.

Breytenbach also said that Van Wyk had the “final say” because it was her affidavit.

Trengove had earlier accused Wasserman of “trawling through all her documents to see if they could rustle up further complaints”.

This was after Wasserman had conceded that complaints against Breytenbach related to speaking to the media and earning an outside income had nothing to do with the original ICT complaint against her.

Both these complaints originated from intercepted emails.

Breytenbach has consistently maintained that her suspension was an attempt to protect former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli from prosecution.

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