Former senior state prosecutor and now DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach, and her attorney, have been acquitted on charges of defeating the ends of justice but will still have to answer to charges of contravening the NPA Act.
Pretoria North Magistrate Brian Nemavhidi today acquitted Breytenbach and her attorney Johan Wagenaar on two counts of defeating the ends of justice by wiping information off Breytenbach’s official laptop while she was on suspension as a prosecutor in 2012.
He said the charge related to information forming the subject of an internal investigation and not civil or criminal judicial proceedings. The offence of defeating the ends of justice could only be committed in relation to judicial proceedings and not quasi-administrative proceedings such as an internal disciplinary hearing.
However, the magistrate found that Breytenbach and Wagenaar had a case to answer on four charges of contravening the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Act.
The charges also relate to the handling of her NPA laptop.
The trial was postponed to October for the defence to present their case.
Breytenbach has accused her former bosses of orchestrating a “Gestapo-like” criminal investigation against her to get rid of her because she refused to drop charges against the police’s then suspended crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.
Breytenbach alleged the charges against her correlated with the withdrawal of charges against Mdluli by (the now suspended) NPA commercial crimes head Lawrence Mrwebi – a step she fiercely opposed.
The NPA in March 2015 reinstated criminal charges against Mdluli after the Supreme Court of Appeal confirmed a court ruling setting aside the withdrawal of some of the charges against him.
Breytenbach was suspended from the NPA in 2012. She was cleared on 15 disciplinary charges, but resigned from the NPA in 2014.
She and Wagenaar have denied guilt to charges of contravening the NPA Act for their alleged refusal to hand over Breytenbach’s NPA laptop and wiping off official documents.
The NPA’s acting integrity head, Herculas Wasserman, earlier testified that the Hawks were now investigating Breytenbach’s alleged involvement in a company with a former NPA “client” (complainant in a criminal trial) and a former defence advocate who appeared in many cases in which she was the prosecutor.
He conceded in cross-examination that Breytenbach had revealed her interest in the company, which never came to fruition and in which she never received shares.
Wasserman became involved in the investigation against Breytenbach after a complaint 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.
He testified that he had found evidence of an “ethical dilemma”, as Kumba’s advocate Mike Hellens seemed to have become involved in the investigation process against ITC.
He told the court he believed Breytenbach had refused to hand over her laptop and deleted files to thwart the investigation against her.