Mlotshwa to be replaced

2012-07-16 00:00

KWAZULU-Natal’s acting director of public prosecutions, Simphiwe Mlotshwa is being replaced allegedly because he has persisted with the prosecution of two politicians implicated in the high-profile “amigos” trial.

The Witness has been reliably informed that Mlotshwa’s replacement is advocate Moipone Noko-Mashilo, who is currently head of the NPA’s unit dealing with tax prosecutions based in Durban.

Noko-Mashilo reportedly told colleagues after a visit to Pretoria over a week ago, that she would be taking charge of KwaZulu-Natal.

However, when contacted via cellphone yesterday, she told The Witness that she was “not at liberty to confirm or deny anything” and referred the newspaper to NPA spokesperson, Mthunzi Mhaga.

The Witness has been told that both Noko-Mashilo and Mlotshwa were called to a meeting at the head office in Pretoria on Friday (July 13), where it is understood her appointment was confirmed.

It is uncertain whether she will take over with immediate effect or only at the end of this month.

Mlotshwa’s cellphone was on voicemail yesterday and provincial spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson said any information relating to the high-profile “amigos” case is handled by the national office.

NPA spokesperson, Mthunzi Mhaga subsequently told The Witness he was “unaware of any takeover”, but promised to make inquiries. Mlotshwa has been acting director of public prosecutions in KZN for about 18 months.

Since KZN DPP Shamila Batohi took up an appointment as senior legal advisor to the head of prosecution at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague on November 1, 2009, the KZN post has been filled by acting DPP’s. They included advocates Sheriza Ramouthar and Gert Engelbrecht, before Mlotshwa.

Mlotshwa has reportedly recently fallen out with his superiors in the NPA, largely over his decision to proceed with the prosecution of MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni in the widely publicised “amigos” corruption trial.

The trial is due to take place in Durban from October 1 to December 14, but formal pre-trial applications are scheduled to be heard by Judge Ron McLaren in the high court in Pieter­maritzburg this week.

Sources close to the case have confirmed allegations which surfaced in the Mail & Guardian newspaper recently, which highlighted the in-fighting between officials from the NPA and Mlotshwa and his team, who led the prosecution.

Mlotshwa allegedly disagrees with the views of advocate Lawrence Mrwebi (head of the specialised commercial crimes unit) and acting national DPP Nomgcobo Jiba, that there is not a lot to be gained from pursuing charges against Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni.

The thorny issue first came to the fore when controversy dogged the issuing of warrants of arrest for the two politicians which were signed by Mlotshwa and then delayed.

It emerged at the time that the then NDPP, Menzi Simelane, had asked police to delay the execution of the warrants.

THE state’s 72-page indictment in the case cites Uruguyan businessman, Gaston Savoi (director of Intaka Investments and shareholder in Skyros Medical Suppliers) as the leader, co-manager and the controlling mind behind a criminal enterprise in which all the other accused participated. The purpose of the enterprise being to defraud KZN government departments and by doing so enrich its members.

The charges relate to allegedly corrupt tenders awarded for the purchase and hire of water purification plants and oxygen self-generating equipment supplied by Savoi’s company, Intaka, to the health department between 2004 and 2007.

There are a total of 23 accused listed on the indictment including five companies.

Apart from Savoi, Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni, the list of accused also includes former KZN health department heads, Busisiwe Nyembezi and Ronald Greene-Thompson, and the former provincial treasury head, Sipho Shabalala.

Mabuyakhulu is cited in his capacity as MEC for local government, traditional affairs and housing at the relevant time, and Nkonyeni as former KZN health minister.

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