Pretoria - The decision to leave the NPA after serving as a career State advocate for 36 years was not an easy one to make, and is still difficult to process, Gerrie Nel said on Tuesday.
During a media briefing at the lobby group AfriForum's headquarters in Centurion, Nel told reporters that his decision was based on making a difference in the lives of South Africans through a new private prosecuting unit with the organisation.
"I'm not leaving the NPA because I'm upset, I'm creating something new," Nel said.
Nel had been in talks with the organisation for more than a year and as discussions continued and plans began developing, he found himself attracted to the idea of starting a unit that would make a difference by prosecuting both big and small cases.
"When we started talking about this particular unit and the concept and the possibilities, and the need for it, that is when I decided to chew on it and decided to make it my own."
However, the decision was not a simple one.
"All along it was very difficult for me to resign from my position as a prosecutor, it wasn't easy. It's still not easy even as I'm standing here, I am a prosecutor at heart."
'I'm leaving a lifetime behind'
Nel tendered his resignation to North Gauteng director of public prosecutions Sibongile Mzinyathi on Monday and gave 24 hours' notice. He said the reason for the short notice was because his mind was made up and he did not want to draw the process out any longer than he needed to.
"Yesterday was difficult. When I woke up I was shocked. It is not something that I contemplated. I contemplated being there till I retire and have a big farewell function as a good public servant.
"It was difficult, it still is. I am leaving a lifetime behind, a lifetime that I enjoyed, a lifetime that took a lot out of me."
Both his colleagues and his family had given him their support, he said.
He had full confidence that his colleagues would be able to continue to prosecute with the highest level of professionalism, he said.
"You should always leave when you're still happy," he chirped.
He said he hoped to recruit some of his colleagues to help build the team before officially beginning any work.
He did not want to be drawn into identifying any particular individuals the organisation planned on pursuing but confirmed to reporters that he may be dusting off some old files that he had not had a chance to pursue while still in the NPA.