Top KZN prosecutor dies after sudden demotion

2010-04-01 00:00

THE chief public prosecutor of Northern KwaZulu-Natal died of a heart attack on Tuesday, just three days after having been redeployed as a public prosecutor in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

Friends and family said yesterday that André Laubscher (56), “a quiet, reserved” person, was the epitome of health until he received the news.

“I was married to André for 30 years,” said Annerine Laubscher. “I don’t have the slightest doubt that it was the stress of his transfer that caused his death.

“He handled the news very badly, suddenly stopped eating and didn’t sleep at night. He was extremely tense. I know my husband. He was broken.”

In another development in the sudden demotion of senior public prosecutors to public prosecutor positions in courts countrywide, three sources confirmed yesterday that all the public prosecutors concerned are considering a class action lawsuit against the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in terms of the Labour Relations Act.

Meanwhile, the Public Servants’ Association (PSA) declared disputes on behalf of advocates Retha Meintjes SC and George Baloyi, both deputy directors of public prosecution in Pretoria, after NPA chief advocate Menzi Simelane unilaterally reduced their status and responsibilities earlier this week, reports Sonja Carstens.

The disputes came a day after the PSA also declared a dispute on behalf of André (Lampies) Lamprecht, chief West Rand public prosecutor, following the unilateral suspension of his managerial duties. A Facebook group has been started in support of Lamprecht.

According to PSA deputy general manager Manie de Clercq, the NPA did not consult any of the three prosecutors before moving them to the lower courts.

Annerine Laubscher said Sime­lane phoned her husband on Saturday to tell him of the transfer while they were in a restaurant. “Immediately he was no longer himself. He just wanted to go home.”

Laubscher’s son, Neville, a public prosecutor in Pinetown, said his father had no health problems until last week. “He sounded very tense to me.”

The NPA expressed sympathy with Laubscher’s family and friends. “It is sad to lose such a high-quality prosecutor,” said spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga.

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