‘Office policy’ used to check Breytenbach’s private emails

2012-07-26 12:08

Senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach’s disciplinary hearing has heard that her investigators used “nothing more than an office policy” to check her private emails.

Wim Trengove this morning continued his relentless cross-examination of Hercules Wasserman, a senior manager of the NPA’s Integrity Management Unit.

Trengove said that Wasserman had demanded “unrestricted access” to Breytenbach’s laptop in order to “trawl” through all of her information when she was not even aware of what the complaint against her was.

Wasserman had previously conceded that he was aware that Breytenbach was not given a detailed copy of the complaint against her at the time that he had demanded her laptop.

“So your demand was for unrestricted access?” asked Trengove.

Wasserman responded that he “indicated that we would limit it to the (ICT) issue”.

“Of which she had no idea?” Trengove replied.

One of the main NPA complaints against Breytenbach relate to her conduct in the investigation of the Kumba-Sishen Iron Ore and ICT mining rights dispute.

Trengove subsequently asked Wasserman what correspondence between Breytenbach and Beeld journalist Sonja Carstens “about a playstation for an orphanage” had to do with the ICT complaint against Breytenbach.

Wasserman responded that it “suggested there was a certain relationship between them” at a time when there were media leaks from the NPA.

He said he could not ignore other issues of misconduct.

Trengove then referred Wasserman to the NPA’s IT policy for accessing an employee’s emails without their consent.

He read out that the policy said this could be done only when “consistent with and required by law”.

“I’d like you to tell me which law you used to access her private correspondence?”

When Wasserman said the Criminal Procedure Act, Trengove responded: “Are you serious?”

After an objection by prosecutor William Mokhari that Wasserman could not be expected to answer the questions unless he went to university to study law, Wasserman conceded that he had acted in terms of the policy in accessing the emails.

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