Gerrie “The Bulldog” Nel will be revered and reviled as the charismatic prosecutor who was at the centre of some of the country’s most contentious high-profile cases.
He made his dramatic exit from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) this week to join minority rights lobby group AfriForum.
Having worked as a prosecutor for more than 30 years, he leaves behind him a string of admirers and critics.
In March, the Sunday Independent reported the Hawks were investigating Nel in connection with the alleged “rogue” unit at the South African Revenue Service.
According to the paper, sources claimed the investigative unit was probing Nel for allegedly contravening parts of the Public Finance Management Act.
Private forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan said the NPA had suffered a great loss with Nel’s resignation and hinted at some animosity between the institution and its former employee.
“The NPA have, in the last few years, created an environment where they have clearly demonstrated, in some of the cases they’ve handled, that they are incapable of acting without fear, favour or prejudice,” O’Sullivan said.
“By their conduct, they have created an environment where concerned citizens felt the NPA did not serve its constitutional mandate.”
Having previously described his “esteemed” former colleague as “one prosecutor whose legal expertise, conviction and integrity are beyond reproach”, erstwhile spokesperson for the justice department Mthunzi Mhaga on Tuesday had no comment regarding Nel’s resignation.
Similarly, lobby group Freedom Under Law’s Judge Johann Kriegler said the institution also did not have a position on the matter.
Meanwhile, taking to Twitter to react to Nel’s resignation, EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi wrote: “We are not scared of Gerrie Nel; we will never be scared of Ku Klux Klan AfriForum – we know that they have EFF as the target! We are ready.”