Simelane needs to explain himself

2012-10-06 16:32

Former prosecutions boss Menzi Simelane could still get his old job back – he just needs to explain his conduct first.

That’s according to the Constitutional Court, which on Friday ­confirmed that President Jacob ­Zuma’s appointment of Simelane was unconstitutional and permanently overturned it.

In a unanimous judgment, the court laid much of the blame for the “irrationality” of Simelane’s appointment at Justice Minister Jeff Radebe’s door.
The court ruled that Radebe’s ­explanation for his advice to Zuma to appoint ­Simelane “did not hold any water”.

Central to the case were the findings of the 2007 Ginwala inquiry into the fitness of Vusi Pikoli to hold office as the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

The commission found that ­Simelane’s testimony ­before it was “contradictory and without basis in fact or law”.

At the time, Simelane was the ­director-general of the department of justice.

There had been a dispute between him and Pikoli over the extent of the influence the justice department had over the National Prosecuting Authority and the Scorpions.

The Constitutional Court found that the reasons given by Radebe for advising Zuma to appoint Simelane were irrational under the constitutional principle of the rule of law.

“The minister’s advice to the president to ignore these matters and to appoint Mr Simelane was unfortunate. The material was relevant,” the court found.

“The president decided to heed that advice. The president knew that there had been a commission of inquiry but he accepted the minister’s reasoning that the commission’s finding should be disregarded because the inquiry had not been appointed to investigate Mr Simelane.”

The court, however, ruled that Simelane could still be validly appointed by Zuma if the former prosecutions boss could explain his conduct.

Department of Justice spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said the department was “naturally disappointed” by the judgment but would abide by it.

Mhaga said the department was pleased that Simelane’s decisions during his term in office remained valid.

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