The NPA boss, Menzi Simelane, has lost the first round in his fight with his subordinate in KwaZulu-Natal.
Director of public prosecutions Menzi Simelane was this week forced to reinstate the KwaZulu-Natal head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, Knorx Molelle, who was suspended in August on charges that, he said, had been “trumped up”.
Simelane’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Mhaga, said that although the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) legal team had settled a dispute with Molelle in the Labour Court in Johannesburg it would continue to investigate allegations of misconduct against him.
Molelle said the NPA had offered to settle with him because it had no case. “My suspension has been lifted unconditionally and immediately,” he told the Mail & Guardian. “If they have any substance to their allegations against me, why did they agree to settle in court? Why did they not defend their action?
“They can go ahead and investigate all they like. I have reason to believe all the charges against me are being trumped up.”
Molelle said he would be seeking legal advice about allegations made by Simelane and published in City Press that he had cut corrupt deals with Uruguayan businessman Gaston Savoi, who is accused of fraud, to visit Angola.
Simelane claimed this was the reason he had stripped Molelle of his powers. However, the business trip was approved by the lead prosecutors and the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court, and the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court gave Savoi permission to go to Angola in July.
Mhaga confirmed that the NPA had reached a settlement with Molelle, who also holds the rank of NPA deputy director.
“The terms of the settlement are that his suspension is lifted and he will now be able to exercise his delegation [sic] in asset forfeiture proceedings,” said Mhaga in a statement.
“Investigations into the allegations of misconduct are still under way and he has been ordered not to interfere with such investigations or witnesses.”
Last month the M&G reported that attempts had been made to launch an investigation into “conspiracy to murder” charges against Molelle as well as against the head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Special Investigating Unit, Willie Hofmeyr, and the unit’s suspended risk and security manager, Terrence Joubert.
Mhaga told the M&G at the time that he knew nothing of “such investigations” and denied claims by NPA sources that Simelane wanted to remove the top managers and take over control of the Asset Forfeiture Unit.
Molelle, who is an advocate, fought back against his suspension by taking his case to the Labour Court. He claimed in his affidavit that Simelane had failed to substantiate any of the charges being investigated against him.
One of the three charges was that he was doing “remunerative work without permission”.
The others centred on whether Joubert had had permission to withdraw firearms from the Witness Protection Unit for the protection of unit members during a court visit last year to Kimberley, where Savoi and ANC Northern Cape provincial leader John Block were appearing on charges of fraud and corruption.
However, the M&G established that Hofmeyr had, indeed, obtained the necessary permission.