Breytenbach hearing pits NPA against NPA

2012-09-02 10:00
Adriaan Basson and Charl du Plessis
The National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) case against anti-graft prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach has been dealt a blow by an internal policy decision.

This after senior managers in the NPA’s Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit (SCCU) recently decided to allow
outside counsel to assist prosecutors in complex commercial matters.

This goes against the core of the charges levelled against Breytenbach – that she was assisted by Advocate Mike Hellens in the prosecution of mining firm Imperial Crown Trading.

Hellens was retained by Kumba Resources, the complainant in the case, and assisted Breytenbach in drawing
up legal papers in the case.

At a meeting in Pretoria last month, SCCU managers discussed the principle after prosecutors raised concerns about the charges against Breytenbach.

Numerous prosecutors told City Press it was an established principle in the SCCU that complainants’ legal advisers assist the NPA.

One of the matters raised was the SCCU’s prosecution of Auction Alliance and assistance offered by Hellens, who represents the Estate Agency Affairs Board in that case.

“The meeting decided that it was above board to receive assistance from outside counsel as long as you remained independent,” City Press was told.

Advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, the SCCU’s national head, was part of the meeting and endorsed the decision.

Asked how this impacted on the charges against Breytenbach, NPA spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said her disciplinary hearing was under way “and its merits are still to be fully canvassed at that platform”.

The hearing was postponed indefinitely two weeks ago after the recusal of chairperson Sandile July, whom the NPA accused of bias.

Breytenbach’s lawyer Gerhard Wagenaar yesterday said he wasn’t aware of the facts of the cases that were discussed at the SCCU meeting, “but as far as the principle goes, the meeting supported our case”.

Breytenbach denies contravening NPA policy and claims she is being persecuted for insisting on prosecuting suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

On Tuesday, Breytenbach and the NPA will face off at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council.

The NPA is yet to appoint a new chair for Breytenbach’s hearing.