Zuma’s new graft busters

2013-04-21 14:00

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President set to appoint magistrate as NPA boss, advocate to head SIU.

President Jacob Zuma is finally appointing heads to lead two crucial law-enforcement agencies – and both of them are from his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

It has taken him more than a year, but City Press can reveal that Zuma is poised to appoint Pinetown Magistrate Stanley Gumede as head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Advocate Guido Penzhorn as the new Special Investigating Unit (SIU) boss.

An announcement is expected soon.

But Zuma is expected to face hard questions over his choice of candidate to lead the NPA.

Gumede is currently facing “various” complaints against him that are being probed by the the Magistrate’s Commission.

The commission’s Anton Prinsloo confirmed to City Press that Gumede was under investigation, but declined to provide details of the complaints against him.

When visited at court this week, Gumede said he was aware of the complaints, but did not know what they were about.

“What I can say is there are some people who think they have complaints against me,” is all he would say.

City Press understands the complaints against Gumede relate to matters he presided over. In 2010, Gumede was also reported to the Magistrate’s Commission, but nothing came of that case.

Gumede, who comes from Eshowe in northern KwaZulu-Natal, according to his Facebook page, confirmed that he was approached by Zuma’s legal adviser and lawyer, Michael Hulley, to lead the NPA.

He felt it was “premature” to speak about the offer as he had not discussed the position with Zuma, “the only person who can appoint me”.

Gumede will be the first permanent national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) since Advocate Menzi Simelane left office in December 2011.

The Supreme Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court found that Zuma and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe did not consider whether Simelane was a fit and proper candidate prior to appointing him.

Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, a deputy NPA head, has been acting as NDPP for more than a year.

She’s had a tumultuous stint.

On her watch, the NPA, in effect, went bankrupt; suspended top anti-corruption prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach accused Jiba of protecting suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli (who supported Jiba during her own legal troubles with the NPA); and it was revealed that Zuma expunged the criminal record of Booker Nhantsi, Jiba’s husband, in September 2010.

A Durban senior advocate described Gumede as “very capable”.

“He’s a quiet guy, who doesn’t talk a lot, but who knows his law. He’s very capable. He knows what he’s doing,” the advocate said.

“Even lawyers whose clients he convicts say that he knows what he’s doing. It’s a big ask of anyone. This is another kind of job. Another kind of pressure comes with it.”

Penzhorn, who is expected to be named as the new SIU head, is a seasoned silk who recently successfully appealed former Ekurhuleni metro police chief Robert McBride’s conviction for drunk driving.

But he established himself as a top anti-corruption expert when he prosecuted multinational companies involved in the Katse Dam corruption scandal on behalf of the Lesotho government.

Penzhorn’s Lesotho prosecutions also led to the jailing of Masupha Sole, the former CEO of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

Sole was sentenced to 18 years in jail for taking bribes from international companies involved in the building of the dam.

Penzhorn’s prosecutions received international recognition and led to him delivering lectures to the US Senate and the European Parliament.

Penzhorn said this week he wasn’t shying away from questions, but couldn’t comment on a process that has not yet been finalised.

Penzhorn will replace former Judge Willem Heath, who resigned as head of the SIU in December 2011 after 17?days in the job.

In an interview with City Press, Heath accused former president Thabo Mbeki for instigating rape and corruption prosecutions against Zuma.

After his resignation, Zuma appointed deputy NPA head Nomvula Mokhatla as acting SIU boss.

The unit has been marred by infighting between management and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) since the removal of Willie Hofmeyr as SIU head in November 2011.

Zuma’s spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, said the president was “giving consideration to the appointment of the NDPP and the head of the SIU and an announcement will be made in this regard after due process has been followed”.

Maharaj said no further comments would be made to protect the “integrity of the process, the institutions as well as that of the personalities involved”.

– Additional reporting by Paddy Harper

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