DPP has to earn support

2012-07-17 00:00

WHILE Simphiwe Mlotshwa, the former acting KZN director of public prosecutions (DPP), was respected as a man of integrity, his replacement, Moipone Noko-Mashilo, could find it difficult to attract the same support, it emerged from interviews with senior state advocates yesterday.

According to an internal staff memo, Mlotshwa was replaced with immediate effect by Noko-Mashilo, who was head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s tax unit in Durban, yesterday.

Noko-Mashilo’s appointment was later confirmed by Natasha Ramkisson, spokesperson for the DPP.

Ramkisson said no official reason was given for the change in hierarchy. She added, however, that both Mlotshwa and Noko-Mashilo had been appointed KZN DPPs in acting capacities, and that Mlotshwa, who had done the job for about 18 months, had filled that post “for the maximum time”.

“There have also been others that have acted [as KZN DPP] after advocate [Shamila] Batohi went to the Hague,” said Ramkisson.

State advocates who spoke to The Witness concerning the developments yesterday asked not to be named as they are not allowed to make statements to the press.

“We have great respect for Simphiwe Mlotshwa. He is a man of integrity and has dealt fairly with everyone. He has stood by his principles. How can we support someone who takes over from him under such a cloud?” asked one senior advocate.

“Politics shouldn’t play a role in deciding who to prosecute,” said another.

This was in reference to speculation that the reason Mlotshwa was replaced was a disagreement with his superiors in the National Prosecuting Authority over the prosecution of KZN politicians Mike Mabuyakhulu and Peggy Nkonyeni, who are among those implicated in the “amigos” racketeering and corruption case.

Meanwhile, the anticipated pre-trial skirmishes in the case which were expected to be dealt with in the Pietermaritzburg high court did not materialise yesterday.

Advocates and attorneys instead spent several hours in private discussion with Judge Ron McLaren in his chambers.

The Witness was told the nature of the discussions centred around routine matters such as funding problems being experienced by some of the accused and “logistical” matters.

It did emerge, however, that Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi’s legal team intends to launch a challenge against the constitutionality of the racketeering charge he faces in the Durban high court on October 1.

The actual trial is now scheduled to begin on March 4 next year.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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