/ 10 March 2008

Suspicious letter: NPA to ‘revisit’ mail procedures

The National Prosecuting Authority will ”revisit” its mail handling processes after five staffers became ill after handling a letter delivered to the office of acting head Mokotedi Mpshe, spokesperson Tlali Tlali said on Monday.

”We have launched an internal investigation aimed at revisiting internal processes in terms of handling correspondence, to see if it is a compliance problem or if there are witnesses internally,” he said.

Mpshe was not affected, but five people had to be treated for headaches and rashes after they had handled the letter at the NPA’s Silverton offices on Thursday. That section of the building was sealed off after the incident.

They were back at work on Monday and were being monitored for further symptoms.

”They are OK”, said Tlali.

He said tests had ruled out chemical-warfare agents and a further comprehensive report would examine other possibilities.

”The letter and its origins are the subject of an investigation,” he said.

”This took members of staff by surprise.”

He did not want to comment on whether security arrangements had been stepped up for Mpshe, standing in for Vusi Pikoli who was suspended pending an investigation into his fitness for office and a breakdown of relations with Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla.

The NPA was currently prosecuting a major drugs case expected to include testimony from Glenn Agliotti, accused of murdering mining entrepreneur Brett Kebble. It was also involved in the prosecution of African National Congress president Jacob Zuma and the Police National Commissioner, Jackie Selebi. – Sapa