Prosecutor to plead not guilty

2012-07-21 18:04

Senior state prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach is likely to plead not guilty to all 14 disciplinary charges levelled against her by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Breytenbach’s hearing is set to start at 10am tomorrow, less than two hours after the North Gauteng High Court rules in a last-minute application by the media to gain access to the hearing.

City Press and Media24 lawyerswere forced to go to court on Friday after the NPA claimed that Kgosi Lekabe, the head of the Johannesburg State Attorney’s office, had “no mandate” to act for the NPA.

Lekabe wrote a letter on behalf of the NPA to City Press’ lawyers, in which he gave the assurance that the NPA would apply to court to overturn a ruling by the former chairperson of Breytenbach’s disciplinary hearing, which granted the media access.

While City Press was waiting to be served with papers, Karen van Rensburg, the NPA’s acting chief ­executive, wrote a letter saying ­Lekabe “had no mandate from us to write such a letter”.

This meant that City Press was forced to go to court.

In her letter, she said: “We have instructed Mr Lekabe yesterday to address a letter to you retracting his undertaking and he refused.”

She indicated that Kenny Phuroe, an attorney junior to ­Lekabe, was the attorney of record and that the media would not be allowed without a court order.

Anthony Stein, acting for City Press, on Friday told Judge Ronel Tolmay that the NPA had given no explanation for this “whirlwind of change”. Tolmay said it was a ­“serious allegation against the senior state attorney”, to which Stein replied: “Indeed.”

William Mokhari, who appeared for the NPA, argued that the media’s presence in the hearing would affect the fairness of the proceedings.

He said sensitive evidence would be made public daily and that a media presence might affect witnesses’ testimonies.

Breytenbach has consistently maintained that the “trumped up” charges against her were an ­attempt to protect former police crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli from prosecution.

Although not party to the media’s case, she filed an affidavit supporting City Press’ application.

Charges against Breytenbach relate mainly to her conduct in an investigation into the mineral rights dispute between Sishen/Kumba Iron Ore and ICT.

She has also been charged with withholding her laptop from NPA investigators, speaking to the media and earning an undeclared income.

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