Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
6 Oct 2016
1:04 pm

Spotlight on Breytenbach’s ‘unnaturally close’ ties with advocate

Ilse de Lange

Advocate Mike Hellens appeared to be influencing the investigation against Imperial Crown Trading and Kumba, the state argued in court.

FILE PICTURE: Glynnis Breytenbach Credit: Tracy Lee Stark.

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Glynnis Breytenbach is being investigated by the Hawks for her alleged involvement in a company while she was a regional head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) special commercial crimes unit.

The NPA’s acting integrity head Hercules Wasserman testified in the Pretoria North Magistrates’ Court that he had handled an investigation about Breytenbach’s alleged involvement as a shareholder in a company while she was a senior prosecutor to the Hawks for further investigation.

He said documents retrieved from the NPA’s server revealed that Breytenbach’s partners in the business allegedly included defence advocate Andre Bezuidenhout, who was involved in several cases in which Breytenbach was the prosecutor and a former complainant in a criminal case she had handled.

Documents pertaining to the business were allegedly included in files permanently wiped off Breytenbach’s NPA laptop in 2012, but partially retrieved from the NPA’s server.

A document pertaining to a diversion application relating to a drunk driving case in the Western Cape against Bezuidenhout’s son was also wiped from her laptop.

Wasserman was at that stage investigating a complaint against Breytenbach that she was not impartial in her handling of a mining rights case involving Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) and Kumba Iron Ore subsidiary Sishen Iron Ore.

The complaint included that Breytenbach was “unnaturally close” to Kumba’s advocate Mike Hellens, that Hellens appeared to be influencing the investigation against ICT and that information gathered through a search and seizure warrant might be used in civil litigation between the mining giants.

He earlier testified that official documents relating to the mining rights case had also been wiped off Breytenbach’s laptop. These included documents pointing to Hellens drafting the search and seizure documents.

Wasserman said Breytenbach had told him she was ashamed of nothing on her laptop and he could look at it, but her attorney Gerhard Wagenaar said no, as he thought her rights would be violated.

“I really don’t know what the fuss was all about. I’ve never experienced such behaviour. People generally cooperate and hand over their laptops when being investigated,” he said.

Wasserman said they were at that stage investigating if there was any truth in the allegations of bias against Breytenbach and the documents on her laptop would not have compromised her at that stage as most did not relate to the investigation.

Wasserman said the complaint against Breytenbach came from ICT’s  attorney Ronald Mendelow and was not “orchestrated” by the NPA.

Breytenbach and Wagenaar have pleaded not guilty to charges of contravening the NPA Act and defeating the ends of justice in relation to their handling of her official NPA laptop and the removal of information from the laptop.

In cross-examination Wasserman conceded that Breytenbach had disclosed her interest in the business, which never came to fruition and in which she never received a share, but denied deliberately trying to taint Breytenbach.

The trial continues.