Honour restored, says Pikoli

2009-11-24 07:28

Cape Town - Vusi Pikoli may have reached a settlement with the state, "but he continues to insist that there had been interference with the prosecuting authority".

So said Aslam Moosajee, the legal representative for Pikoli, dismissed national director of public prosecution (NDPP), after Pikoli withdrew an application to have his dismissal set aside on Monday.

This was part of the settlement agreed between Pikoli and the state at the weekend. Furthermore, he will receive a once-off payment of R7.5m, and the state will also pay his legal expenses.

Pikoli might also be welcomed back into government soon, since the settlement determines that the country's former NDPP will consider an offer from the state to accept a senior position.

In the settlement agreement, the state acknowledges that Pikoli is "professionally competent", "sufficiently experienced", "conscientious", and has the "required integrity" to be appointed to such a post.

Talks for senior position

According to information, discussions are being held for the purpose of offering Pikoli an appropriate and suitably senior position, although no offer is on the table yet.

Moosajee explained that Pikoli "insists" that former president Thabo Mbeki's interference in his work as national prosecuting head had lead to his dismissal.

"This man (Pikoli) has taken an incredibly principled stance. However, there was no assurance that his application would be successful."

If the application, which was submitted to the North Gauteng High Court, had succeeded, there were indications that the state would have appealed.

"And after that there's the constitutional court and an extensive process lasting between 18 and 24 months. However, the reality is actually that Pikoli hasn't been earning a salary since February, he hasn't been able to look for work, and he couldn't accept any offers."

The state's admission, just as the Ginwala Commission had found in its earlier investigation, that Pikoli's integrity and competence are above suspicion, has restored his reputation and credibility according to Moosajee.

The fact that the settlement pertinently confirms the independence of the legal authority also satisfied Pikoli.

Pikoli's hesitance to carry on with the case is apparently also rooted in the constitutional provision that the president appoints the NDPP.

'Not a victory for judiciary'

Apparently there would have been more than a fair chance that the court could find that the bench is not allowed to interfere with the appointment or dismissal, which is designated by the Constitution as an exclusively presidential competence.

Government spokespersons on Monday said there is not yet any indication as to when President Jacob Zuma will appoint a new NDPP. Mokotedi Mpshe is currently serving as acting NDPP.

Dene Smuts, DA-MP and the party's spokesperson for the judiciary, repeated her party's appeal that NDPP candidates must be recommended to the president by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), as is the case with judges.

"Pikoli might feel that his integrity and the principle of independence of the judiciary has been restored by the state, but the settlement is hardly a victory for the Constitution and the supremacy of the judiciary."