Court rules Breytenbach disciplinary open to media
The media must be allowed at the disciplinary hearing of suspended National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, the High Court in Pretoria ruled on Monday.
"It is of the utmost importance that the media has access to this disciplinary hearing...," Judge Ronel Tolmay ruled.
The hearing would deal with matters of significant Constitutional importance and should be in the public domain, she said.
"Disciplinary proceedings in this matter cannot be described as private or ordinary. Given the allegations of corruption, mismanagement and political interference, serious Constitutional issues arise and the public's rights to be informed in these circumstances are undeniable."
The judge awarded punitive costs against the NPA.
Breytenbach was suspended as regional head of the specialised commercial crime unit on April 30, allegedly for conduct relating to cases allocated to her.
She has contended that acting national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba suspended her in an attempt to protect former intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
On Wednesday, Johannesburg Labour Court Judge Hamilton Cele dismissed her application against suspension from the National Prosecuting Authority.
This was because Breytenbach failed to show there were compelling or urgent circumstances to justify a final declaration of the unlawfulness of her suspension, he said.
However, he said that if the NPA did exercise its right to discipline Breytenbach, it could be found to be "flouting and frustrating" the aims of an investigation ordered by the High Court in Pretoria into Mdluli's suspension.
On Friday, Media 24, Avusa Media and M-Net launched an urgent application in the High Court in Pretoria for access to Breytenbach's disciplinary hearing.
Permission for access by the print media was initially granted by disciplinary hearing chairman Barry Madolo, but the NPA subsequently said Madolo, who has since recused himself from the hearing, had no authority to make such a decision.
The National Director of Public Prosecutions opposed the application on the grounds that disciplinary hearings are private affairs and that the presence of the media might intimidate witnesses.
The NPA launched a counter-application.