NPA wants hearing's head out
The National Prosecuting Authority has asked for the chairman of the disciplinary hearing of suspended commercial crimes prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach to recuse himself.
Advocate William Mokhari dropped the bombshell an hour after proceedings were meant to get under way at the NPA's headquarters in Pretoria yesterday. He gave no reason for his demand.
The proceedings were delayed following a meeting between the NPA's legal team and the acting national director of public prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba.
This is the second time that the NPA has asked that the chairman of the hearing recuse himself.
The first chairman, Barry Madolo, was replaced shortly after he granted permission to the media to sit in on proceedings - an application the NPA fought unsuccessfully.
Now it wants the current chairman, Sandile July, gone .
Breytenbach faces 15 charges, including gross misconduct, relating to her handling of an investigation into a mining rights claim contested by Kumba Iron Ore and Imperial Crown Trading.
The NPA alleges that Breytenbach allowed Kumba's legal representative, Michael Hellens, to direct the investigation, and had him draft the affidavits used to obtain search warrants for raids on Imperial Crown Trading's Kimberley premises.
Breytenbach believes her suspension is to stop her from prosecuting former police crime intelligence boss Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, who allegedly abused the crime intelligence unit's secret slush fund.
Jiba ordered Breytenbach, who was the lead prosecutor in both cases, to drop the charges against Mdluli.
July was appointed by the NPA to chair the hearing.
The objection to July is believed to centre on the fact that Werksmans Attorneys, Johannesburg, of which July is a partner, represent ArcelorMittal, which is said to have links to Kumba.
A source close to the NPA's team said state witness Ronald Mendelow objected to July chairing the hearing on the first day of his three-day testimony.
This week, July ordered both Mendelow and Mokhari to stick to the evidence and not deviate from the list of charges the NPA drew up against Breytenbach.
Mokhari said: "Because of factual matters, it is relevant to appoint a new chair.
"There is no other alternative."
Speaking to The Times, Mokhari said his meeting with Jiba had nothing to do with the hearing.
"Why would it? We have enough reasons to remove the chairman. All will be revealed soon," he said.
July declined to comment on the NPA's application.
The application will be heard today.