There is hope. Sometimes when the outlook seems bleak there is a ray of sunshine, if only momentary, until it is hidden by yet another cloud.
What am I rambling on about? The last post on this ‘blog’ was all about politicians manipulating and corrupting the civil service and interfering in the management of the Mandela Bay Metropolis. At the same time another story of political interference hits the headlines. This time politicians interfering in the National Prosecuting Authority.
Glynnis Breytenbach is a prosecutor in the employ of the NPA. At the time of posting she has been suspended from her job. Ms Breytenbach’s cases included prosecution of former police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli on fraud and other charges. Her boss instructed her to close down the prosecution of Mdluli and Ms Breytenbach refused. Unable to get her collusion her boss, acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba, then initiated charges against Ms Breytenbach for, amongst other things, failing to act impartially in a case, improper relationships with opposition attorneys whose clients were under investigation by Breytenbach, breaches of confidentiality and insubordination (in all, 15 separate charges). The NPA brought these charges against Breytenbach and then their own disciplinary hearing threw all the charges out as ‘guilt …. on this plethora of charges …. has not been established’, this according to the hearing’s chairperson Selby Mbenenge SC. That was the ray of sunshine.
Breytenbach claims Jiba suspended her to prevent her pursuing the investigation against Mdluli, a view encouraged by the response of the NPA to their own findings.
Dismissing the findings of their own disciplinary hearing (they maintain “the findings are factually incorrect and legally unsustainable”) the NPA are now taking this to a review court. That is the next dark cloud
What does this all mean? Probably, just for starters that:
- Facts are what the NPA’s political masters say they are and believe are expedient, even in the face of the NPA’s own expert’s opinion to the contrary.
- The NPA really really don’t want Breytenbach to continue investigating Mdluli for fraud & etc.
- The fallout of a continued Ndluli investigation and other issues under investigation may touch other political luminaries.
- The pressure to close down the Mdluli investigation is most probably political (don’t touch the president’s men), in spite of ANC assertions to the contrary.
The truth of the matter probably follows the old saw, ‘if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck, it probably is a duck’. So, if it looks like political interference in the judicial process and the affairs of the NPA, it probably is political interference.
What makes this so depressing is that this seems to be part of a bigger pattern. The pattern at Nelson Mandela Metro looks just like the pattern at the NPA, or, are we just imagining this?
A Direct Democracy Forum administration’s response to this would be to ensure that Ms Breytenbach is fully restored, with all powers necessary to do her job, whatever she deems that to be, and to go where the facts of her investigations lead her, without any political interference. If you think we are not serious about this follow the link to DDF policies on the judiciary.
The buck stops at the ballot box.