‘NPA must explain’

2013-05-07 00:00

THE Democratic Alliance in KZN yesterday took the National Prosecuting Authority to court over its refusal to explain the withdrawal of criminal charges against two prominent ANC leaders who were co-accused in the so-called “Amigos” trial.

The DA took the legal route after the KZN Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) refused to grant it access to information pertaining to the withdrawal of charges against Economic Development MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu and KZN Legislature speaker Peggy Nkonyeni.

The charges were withdrawn after the pair made representations when they were due to stand trial. The DPP said there was no prospect of a successful prosecution.

When the DA sought the reasons through the Promotion of Access to Information Act, its request was declined on the grounds that the representations were “confidential in nature”.

The racketeering, corruption and fraud trial concerns the supply of water purification and oxygen equipment to the KZN government by businessman Gaston Savoi’s companies.

In its application, filed in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday, the DA asks the court:

• To set aside the KZN DPP’s decision to refuse them access to the information;

• To order the prosecuting authority to furnish it with the record of its decision to withdraw the charges within 15 days.

DA KZN leader Sizwe Mchunu said in an affidavit that the refusal to release the information on the basis of confidentiality was invalid.

“It is not clear on what basis the first respondent claims that any communications made by the third and fourth respondents [Mabuyakhulu and Nkonyeni] to the NPA are privileged.

“Certainly she cannot be referring to an accused person’s ‘privilege’ not to incriminate him or herself,” ­Mchunu said.

Later, at a press conference, Mchunu said Nkonyeni and Mabuyakhulu were public figures appointed to senior positions in KZN, “and the public has a right to know why the charges were withdrawn”.

He said the DA did not accept that the charges were withdrawn because of the modest prospect of a successful prosecution

The party believed that was for a court to decide.

DA MPL Johann Krog said the refusal to give reasons implied that a proper case for the withdrawal of charges did not exist.

“Some legal mind in the NPA must have thought there was substantial evidence to prosecute them,” he said, referring to the charges initially brought against the pair.

Mchunu was confident of the success of their court application, saying there had been a precedent when the NPA was ordered by a court to provide information pertaining to the withdrawal of charges against President Jacob Zuma.

He denied that the application was related to the general elections next year.

“This is a mere case of public accountability where we believe that politicians have got to be held accountable and do away decisively with this myth emerging in the country that ANC politicians are untouchable even before the courts of law.”

Mabuyakhulu could not be reached and his private secretary said he was unavailable. His spokesperson, Bheko Madlala, said they were unaware of the court application.

He said Mabuyakhulu had maintained his innocence and had subjected himself to the court’s scrutiny until the charges were withdrawn.

Nkonyeni did not respond to calls and text messages. Her spokesperson, Wonder Hlongwa, said: “We have no comment.”

NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said they were also unaware of the DA’s application. “The DA is welcome to go to court and the NPA will just be required to follow proper procedures,” said Makeke.

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