Wise up, Simelane!

2010-04-17 10:23

NATIONAL director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane is a man on a mission – he wants to transform the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

However, behind his attempt is a tragically misguided understanding of his role and that of the NPA. This was evident in his lecture at Wits University on Wednesday.

He said prosecutorial independence does not equal independence from the executive.

“You can be independent and not be trusted. Trust is earned or lost as a result of particular actions,” he said, citing as an example former Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana, who he claimed was independent but distrusted.

It is laughable that Mushwana was independent. He did not act decisively on cases that ­involved members of the executive and the ruling party.

It is incorrect to compare Mushwana with prosecutors from the NPA,which has largely acted without fear or favour.

The apartheid government abused the prosecutions ­authority because it aligned itself with the executive.

In 2008 former National Assembly speaker Frene Ginwala said Simelane had “an incorrect understanding of his role (as justice department head) in relation to the NPA”.

He now claims the NPA is part of the executive, a comment that must worry us all.

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