Prosecutions boss won’t say why charges against KZN politicians were dropped

2013-06-23 06:00

KwaZulu-Natal Director of Public Prosecutions Moipone Noko says it would be wrong to give the political opponents of two ANC provincial leaders, implicated in the Amigos corruption case against whom she dropped charges last year, details of why she did so.

In papers filed in the Pietermaritzburg High Court this week, Noko defended her decision to withdraw the charges against Economic Affairs MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and KwaZulu-Natal Legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni.

Her information officer had earlier turned down an application for a record of her decision in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, sparking the application.

Noko withdrew corruption charges against the two and other accused on August 17 last year, countermanding a decision by her predecessor, Advocate Simphiwe Mlotshwa, to present an indictment against all 23 accused in the case.

The group had been charged over an allegedly corrupt deal involving Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi’s Intaka Holdings, which supplied the provincial government with water purifiers and oxygen-generating plants at massively inflated prices.

Nkonyeni was charged for allegedly helping make the deal happen in return for a R1 million-plus donation to the ANC. Mabuyakhulu was ANC provincial treasurer at the time.

“The provision of this information is in my discretion, and it would be an injudicious exercise of that discretion if I were to make it available to the applicant as demanded by it. Such a disclosure to a third party, whose interest in it is contestably illegitimate, may open my office to legal action,” said Noko.

Release of the information, she said, might weaken the state’s case against the remaining accused.

It may even lead to the eventual collapse of the entire case,” she said.

She added her information officer had given sufficient information in terms of the request, which did not say she should release or consider releasing parts of her record of decision.

The case, Noko said, was ongoing and none of the accused – including those against whom she had withdrawn – had yet been arraigned.

“Not even the remaining accused persons have been arraigned yet, and anything is possible,” she said.

I may reinstate the charges against those against whom, at this stage, I have withdrawn charges, depending on what new evidence is brought to the fore.’’

She said she had to weigh up the public interest against the harm that could be caused by “the disclosure of the entire case and the reason why it is going in a particular direction”, especially to the political opponents of Nkonyeni and Mabuyakhulu.

She said it was “remarkable” that the DA had requested disclosure around the decision to withdraw provisionally against only the two and not the others against whom she had dropped charges.

In his papers filed in support of Noko’s decision to withhold the information, Mabuyakhulu maintained his innocence and said he had not made any representation to Noko ahead of her decision.

He said his reputation had suffered “greatly” because of the “groundless” charges, which were especially embarrassing and politically inconvenient.

The matter, he said, had gone on long enough, and an appropriate decision had been taken by Noko in withdrawing the case against him.

Mabuyakhulu said the DA application was an extension of the “political mudslinging” around the case by an opposition party which was wanting to make political mileage out of it ahead of the impending elections.

Mabuyakhulu said that in terms of the PAIA, the DA should have appealed against Noko’s decision within 60 days and had failed to do so, as a result extinguishing its rights to the information.

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