Judgment reserved in Breytenbach bid

2012-06-25 21:49

Johannesburg - The Labour Court in Johannesburg reserved judgment on Monday in an application by prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach challenging her suspension by the NPA.

"Both sides did a diligent job and I need time to look at the submissions. It is clear that both sides came to court prepared," Judge Hamilton Cele said while postponing the case.

"I will try as quickly as possible to respond. I'll be a judge sitting in urgent court this week, so I will be taking a chance if I say I'll be ready next week and I do not want to do that.

"The case is postponed indefinitely for judgment."

William Mokhari, for the National Prosecuting Authority, told reporters outside court he was happy with how proceedings went.

"We can't say much for now - as you know the judgment was reserved and the judge will indicate to the parties as to when he will deliver judgment," said Mokhari.

"So we'll just have to wait and see... We are very confident about our submissions because we are satisfied that we represent the existing legal position."

Mokhari said Breytenbach's suspension had nothing to do with former crime intelligence head Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli.

She was suspended as regional head of the specialised commercial crime unit on 30 April, for conduct relating to cases allocated to her, the NPA said.

Breytenbach submitted in court papers that the NPA had "ulterior motives" when it suspended her.

Breytenbach's lawyer Andrew Redding said she believed acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba suspended her in an attempt to protect Mdluli.

Mokhari argued that Breytenbach "became personal" towards Jiba, arguing that she never gave evidence and that it was based on belief and not fact.

"Where is the evidence? The respondent's [Breytenbach] version is based on suspicion and is far-fetched and defamatory," he said.

"The applicant became personal... She became so obsessed with advocate Jiba that everything is advocate Jiba... Why would she be singled out?" Mokhari argued that Breytenbach was not the only prosecutor working on the Mdluli case.

"This shows that the allegations are malicious and reckless because they are not based on a single shred of evidence," he said.

"The applicant tried to run the disciplinary procedures through the Labour Court... She concedes that the allegations [against her] are serious and that she wanted her day in the disciplinary proceedings and we have given her that day - she must come clear her name there."

On 19 June, Breytenbach's disciplinary hearing was postponed to 23 July.

Not fair

Earlier, the NPA argued that the application was not urgent despite Redding arguing that the application should be an urgent matter because the publicity received in the case was negatively affecting her reputation.

"Reputational damage can't be used to lodge urgency, seeing as the accused waited a month before she filed the papers," Mokhari said.

However, Redding said that a suspension was the "industrial equivalent of an arrest".

Arguing on the jurisdiction of the Labour Court to deal with the application, Mokhari said the matter belonged to the Bargaining Council or the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for conciliation and arbitration.

"This court can't determine suspension in decisions related to unfair labour practice," Mokhari said.

Mokhari said the urgency of the application should be struck off the court roll with costs.

Redding argued Breytenbach was not given information on why she was suspended.

"It is meaningless to suspend Ms Breytenbach without giving her sufficient information as to why the suspension. It's not fair to not provide her with additional information," Redding argued.

"She asked for information; she begged for information, but she never got information about why she was suspended," he said.

Cele said he would advise both Breytenbach and the NPA when he was ready with his judgment.

Breytenbach told reporters outside court that she had no comment.

  • glyn.morgan.96 - 2012-06-25 22:04

    Another anc "duck n' dive"! Vote DA.

      Benn - 2012-06-26 07:01

      Can anyone publish the CV of "advocate" Jiba? That should tell us a story!

  • Gerda Malherbe - 2012-06-26 05:59

    I sincerely hope that judge Hamilton Cele is no relation to ex-commissioner Bheki Cele??!!

  • Koos - 2012-06-26 05:59

    Judge Cele?

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