South Africa’s head of commercial crimes prosecutions has been accused of acting unlawfully when he “unilaterally” dropped charges of fraud against suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
Advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, head of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU) in the National Prosecuting Authority, faced a barrage of questions this morning during cross-examination at the disciplinary hearing of suspended prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach.
Breytenbach is the head of commercial crimes prosecutions in Pretoria.
Her advocate, Wim Trengove SC, accused Mrwebi this morning of acting outside the law when he dropped the charges against Mdluli without properly consulting the director of public prosecutions in Pretoria, Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi.
Following a long line of questioning, involving heated moments between Trengove, Mrwebi and prosecutor William Mokhari SC, Mrwebi admitted that he hadn’t “consulted” Mzinyathi as required by law.
He said he met with Mzinyathi and explained to him that he (Mrwebi) believed there were a number of outstanding issues with the Mdluli prosecution.
The case involved the alleged buying of two BMWs for Mdluli and his wife with crime intelligence funds.
After repeatedly being asked by Trengove whether Mzinyathi agreed with his decision to drop the charges against Mdluli, Mrwebi admitted that he didn’t.
“I took a global view of the matter ... I looked at the matter as a whole,” was Mrwebi’s explanation for his decision.
Trengove said Mrwebi ignored the views of Breytenbach and Mzinyathi because he was protecting Mdluli “at all costs”.
Mrwebi denied this.
Earlier in the day Mrwebi said he had made five errors in two letters sent to Breytenbach and Mzinyathi regarding the dropping of Mdluli’s charges.
Mrwebi originally testified he consulted with Mzinyathi about the case on December 5, but Trengove pointed out to him that he gave the instruction the previous day, on December 4.
Mrwebi said the dates on the letters were wrong.
Breytenbach claims her suspension was to protect Mdluli from prosecution, while the NPA says she acted with bias in the fraud investigation involving Imperial Crown Trading, Kumba Iron Ore and multimillion-rand mining resources at the Sishen mine in the Northern Cape.
» Follow @AdriaanBasson for live updates from the hearing.