The wool is beingpulled over our eyes!

2012-07-08 10:40

This is what it feels like to have the woolpulled over your eyes: someone tries deliberately to obstruct your ­vision in order to hide something.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), an institution at the heart of a functioning criminal justice system, has turned chief wool-puller.

Here’s why: there’s a prosecutor called Glynnis Breytenbach. She’s a tough woman with lifelines etched into her face – the marks of someone who brooks no nonsense and fears nothing.

Not the kind of woman you would want to run into, either at court or in a dark alley if you are a crooked cop or a tenderpreneur who peddles your access to power to win mining rights.

You understand? Breytenbach is the lead ­prosecutor probing the looting of an intelligence fund by Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli. She is also the lead prosecutor of the investigation into whether a company part-owned by the Gupta family (close friends of President Jacob Zuma) may have fraudulently won a tranche of very, very valuable iron ore rights.

She has been suspended on spurious charges related to the iron ore case in which it is alleged she colluded with a mining company’s legal counsel. Kumba alleged that the transfer of the rights to the Gupta-linked Imperial Crown Trading was illegal and it kept a watching brief on the case.

So, you will see that Breytenbach’s forthcoming disciplinary case is not a simple matter between employer and employee, as the NPA would have you believe.

It goes to the heart of the ability of prosecutors to do their work without fear, favour or prejudice and so we applied for and won the right from the chairperson, Barry Madolo, to report on this
important case, in an exercise of wool-clearing.

This week, the NPA revoked Madolo’s order and in effect axed him from hearing the case – a vindictive and potentially illegal step.

On Friday, the Mail & Guardian revealed that two more senior prosecutors, Simphiwe Mlotshwa and Bheki Manyathi, are under the same kind of pressure, this time linked to the scandalous ­“Amigos” trial. Allegedly, they are being forced to drop charges against politicians Peggy Nkonyeni and Mike Mabuyakhulu, who allegedly fell into the clutches of a Uruguayan hawker of overpriced ­water pumps and medical supplies called Gaston Savoi.

The case comes to trial in October. The politicians are panicking. The NPA is divided into ­independent and executive-minded camps.

We have written to the NPA asking that they abide by Madolo’s ruling and allow you to know what is happening. If not, we will be forced, with our colleagues at Media24, to go to the High Court to get a court order for the wool to be removed from all our eyes.

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