NPA is hiding something, says judge
There is more to the suspension of senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach than her bosses at the National Prosecuting Authority would like to admit.
This is according to Judge Hamilton Cele, who yesterday in the Johannesburg Labour Court dismissed Breytenbach's application for her suspension to be overturned.
Cele said the court did not have jurisdiction in the matter but told the NPA that Breytenbach would be a "vital official" in the investigation into why disciplinary action against former police crime intelligence boss Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli was dropped.
He said that if she were found guilty by the NPA and dismissed, the investigation of Mdluli - ordered by the Pretoria High Court on an application by the NGO Freedom Under Law - would be compromised.
He said Breytenbach's contention that she was suspended because of her insistence on prosecuting Mdluli might have merit.
Breytenbach approached the court on June 1. She was suspended on April 30.
Though the NPA insists that she was dismissed because she employed an advocate to apply pressure on a state witness in the ICT-Kumba mining rights dispute, Breytenbach believes it was because she refused to stop pursuing criminal charges against Mdluli.
Mdluli is currently suspended. He has been accused of murder and of plundering a secret police slush fund; charges he denies.
Breytenbach was the lead prosecutor in the fraud case against Mdluli, and argued that she was suspended to derail the police boss's prosecution.
Cele dismissed Breytenbach's application that her suspension be overturned, saying she "had not shown the existence of any extraordinary or compelling urgent circumstances" to justify the application being heard in the Labour Court.
He said the matter belonged in the CCMA or the bargaining council.
But he did warn the NPA that it should treat its legal right to hold disciplinary hearings against Breytenbach "with very great circumspection".
He said Breytenbach's suspension was "not as simple as the NPA would have the court believe".
"Had the NPA sought to discipline Breytenbach for her role in the Mdluli matter by having recourse to the ICT matter, the NPA would probably not have confessed to it," he said.
Breytenbach refused to comment. NPA spokesman Mtunzi Mhaga said: "We still believe the NPA was correct in its decision to suspend Breytenbach."