Simelane backs down on demotions

2010-04-04 11:49

NATIONAL Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Menzi Simelane, facing the prospect of urgent court action during the Easter weekend, has backed down and halted the demotion of some of his top prosecutors.

None of those who received Simelane’s marching orders to lesser positions in the NPA hierarchy will now have to report for new duties on Tuesday.

Their reprieve follows talks on Thursday between the NPA and the Public Service Association (PSA), the labour union representing three of the prosecutors.

“The NPA verbally indicated to us that our members do not have to report for duty at the places they have been redeployed to,” PSA deputy chief manager Manie de Clercq told City Press. “We are waiting for written confirmation.”

The NPA furthermore indicated that “the offer included everybody”, said De Clercq. This means that prosecutors not represented by the PSA also do not have to report for their new positions.

Before the reprieve late this week the PSA’s legal representatives were preparing documents for an urgent interdict to halt the demotion of the three PSA members affected by Simelane’s orders. They are advocates George Baloyi, Retha Meintjies and Andre Lamprecht.

“Our members are not unwilling to help with the problems experienced by the NPA,” said De Clercq. “But not in this manner.”

Over the course of the past two weeks Simelane had demoted a number of prosecutors without consultation, notice or ­disciplinary hearings.

The ranks of the demoted included two deputy directors who were involved in the prosecution of President Jacob Zuma in the Johannesburg High Court – advocates George Baloyi and Mutuwa Nengovhela, who were both based at the Johannesburg High Court.

Baloyi was to be dispatched to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court and Nengovhela to the family court.

Also demoted was Soweto chief prosecutor Andre Lamprecht, who was told that he would be deployed as an ordinary prosecutor after refusing to obey Simelane’s instruction not to oppose bail for hip-hop musician Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye, in connection with a deadly accident.

Two of his colleagues at the Pretoria High Court, advocates Retha Meintjies and Connie Erasmus, also came under ­attack. Meintjies was posted to the Mamelodi Magistrate’s Court and Erasmus to the Soshanguve Regional Court.

One of the demoted prosecutors, Andre Laubscher, died of a heart attack this week after he was informed that he had been demoted to a post in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court. Laubscher was KwaZulu-Natal’s chief prosecutor.

In January this year Simelane gagged NPA prosecutors, forbidding them from speaking to the media without prior ­authorisation.

Simelane wanted his office to have more control over “what gets communicated and how it gets communicated”, his spokesperson, Bulelwa Makeke, told the media.

All the prosecutors affected by Simelane’s current redeployment plans are barred from discussing new developments with the media.

They referred City Press to Makeke, who was not available to give City Press the relevant information. She did not ­respond to SMSes querying her boss’s change of direction.

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