Top lawyer remains suspended

2012-07-19 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Labour Court Judge Hamilton Cele yesterday dismissed Glynnis Breytenbach’s urgent application to the court to have her suspension by the Natiopnal Prosecuting Authority (NPA) overturned.

Breytenbach, the senior prosecutor responsible for the case in which Lieutenant-General Mdluli is accused of allegedly abusing crime intelligence “slush funds”, has argued her suspension was an attempt to protect Mdluli.

She was suspended as regional head of the specialised commercial crime unit on April 30, allegedly for conduct relating to cases allocated to her. She contended that she believed acting national director of public prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba, suspended her in an attempt to protect Mdluli.

Cele found that Breytenbach had not shown any “extraordinary or compelling urgent circumstances to justify a final declaration of the unlawfulness of her suspension”.

He said that “from the onset, it needs to be observed that an employer has a general right to discipline its employees … It will only be in exceptional circumstances that this court will intervene in uncompleted disciplinary matters.”

But Cele also warned the NPA to treat Breytenbach’s forthcoming disciplinary hearing with “great circumspection to avoid flouting and frustrating” the investigation into Mdluli.

He was referring to a recent successful court action by rights group Freedom Under Law, barring Mdluli from returning to work.

“If she is found guilty and is dismissed, she will be handicapped from utilising the tools of the trade she might need in those investigations.

“The justice sought … in the matter of General Mdluli would have been seriously compromised.”

Cele also dismissed an application by the NPA to strike out Breytenbach’s evidence relating to the protection of Mdluli from the court record. When the circumstances and facts around her suspension were “seen together, they create a serious doubt” about the NPA’s explanation of her suspension.

Breytenbach’s disciplinary hearing is set to go ahead on Monday. City Press has launched an urgent court application for access to Breytenbach's hearing.

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