Mixed reactions to Nel joining forces with AfriForum

Johannesburg – The move by AfriForum to establish a private prosecuting unit to be led by Advocate Gerrie Nel has been met with mixed reactions from members of the public and legal experts.

Nel resigned on Monday, giving the National Prosecuting Authority 24 hours' notice - a move seen as career suicide by some.

When News24 broke the story about his resignation on Tuesday, social media was abuzz with some saying it was the biggest mistake of his life while others said Nel's career move was in good faith.

Nel was announced as the head of AfriForum's public prosecution unit at a media briefing at the organisation's headquarters in Centurion on Tuesday afternoon.

Nel told reporters that his decision was based on his desire to make a difference in the lives of South Africans.

He also said his move was not politically motivated.

However, some legal experts believed the lobby group he was now involved with has a "dubious political profile".

Difficult job ahead

"I can't imagine anyone wanting to be associated with a white nationalist organisation," constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos told News24.

De Vos said he believed that the AfriForum was pursuing the interests of white people, adding that Nel's job was going to be difficult.

Nel was the State prosecutor in a number of high-profile cases including those of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, former police commissioner Jackie Selebi and mining magnate Brett Kebble.

Lawyer Ulrich Roux said he believed Nel would be the best person to head the private prosecution unit.  

"He is a formidable prosecutor and we shouldn't read too much into him joining forces with AfriForum. The work they want to do is very important and he has proven himself in the many years he has been with the [National Prosecuting Authority].

Lawyer James Grant agreed.

Grant said it was about time that the country had such an initiative, however, he was concerned that AfriForum was perceived as "partisan".

"It would be better if it was launched out of a politically objective organisation," he said.

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