National director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana has been asked to give reasons against his suspension. He is deemed to be "too independent".
A letter from President Jacob Zuma was sent to the national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana on Wednesday this week, asking him to provide reasons why he should not be suspended.
Nxasana was required to respond by 4pm today, but he has asked for an extension as he has a family funeral to attend this weekend, a reliable source told the Mail & Guardian.
With the recent death of his brother-in-law, it had fallen on Nxasana to take care of his funeral arrangements. It was as a result of this family crisis that he had taken leave from work, said the source.
Because of this death in the family, Nxasana had been unable to respond to the letter in the short time afforded him, the M&G was informed, and he is expected to reply to Zuma next week.
It is also expected that Nxasana, who intends to fight his suspension and firing from office, will return to work on Monday.
Zuma announced the commission of inquiry into the fitness of Nxasana to hold office in July.
Recharging Richard Mdluli
Nxasana’s backers in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) believe that previous attempts by former Justice Minister Jeff Radebe to persuade him to step down were related to moves by the prosecuting body to recharge suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli with fraud and corruption.
“He has just shown himself to be too independent, which is why they want to get rid of him,” said an NPA legal figure.
In a shock move, Radebe informed Nxasana at the end of May that he had failed his security clearance on two main counts.
The first was for a murder charge he faced in court when he was 18, which he said he had not declared because he was acquitted on the grounds that he had acted in self-defence.
The second claim against him was his arrest by two police reservists, who he claimed pulled him off the road and swore at him. Nxasana told the M&G the court had refused to place it on the roll because there was no docket.
At the time, Nxasana told the M&G he was on record as having laid charges of abuse against the police reservists.
The Presidency has not yet provided Nxasana with any details of the inquiry, including when it will start. “It is almost like they seem frozen, trying to work out what they will throw at him,” said a source close to Nxasana.
Today Zuma’s spokesperson Mac Maharaj put out a statement, saying that the details of the inquiry into his fitness to hold office were “being finalised”. Nxasana would be informed in due course, he said.
Suspending with full pay
“The Presidency is considering suspending him with full pay, in terms of section 12 (6) (a) of the National Prosecuting Act, pending the inquiry,” said Maharaj.
While not outlining what correspondence Zuma had sent to Nxasana, Maharaj said the President had afforded the National Director of Public Prosecutions an opportunity for written representations.
It is not expected that Nxasana will go quietly. The M&G was informed by the source close to Nxasana that while the government had probably hoped he would step down, Nxasana is not going to leave the NPA without a fight.
Legal figures within the NPA say it should be remembered that Nxasana did not even apply for the job of the head of the NPA, and the government should have done their checks on him before offering him a job.
Instead he was picked for the role, and Nxasana was in the middle of a court case when he got the call to tell him he had the high-profile job.
And when Zuma announced his appointment last year, he sang his praises. “Mr Nxasana currently practises as an attorney with a wealth of experience in criminal litigation, coupled with his having occupied senior positions in the legal profession including the chairpersonship of the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society,” the President said in a statement.