Commission ‘dealing’ with Pikoli hacker allegation

The Ginwala commission set up to inquire into the suspension of National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Vusi Pikoli said on Saturday it was aware that Pikoli is allegedly being blackmailed by a hacker.

Commission spokesperson Lawson Naidoo said the commission had been notified by Pikoli’s lawyers.

”The matter is being dealt with.”

Naidoo said he could not comment on whether the alleged hacking would affect proceedings of the commission.

The commission is meant to begin proceedings on Wednesday.

On Friday, Pikoli’s attorneys said an individual was claiming to have hacked Pikoli’s system.

”The hacker is threatening to release Mr Pikoli’s documents to the press, if he is not paid,” Aslam Moosajee of Deneys Reitz said in a terse statement.

Pikoli would not give in to attempts to extort money from him, he said.

Moosajee warned the media against facilitating ”the commission of a crime by engaging with the hacker or any information that he/she offers”.

Last week, the presidency reportedly launched an 11th-hour bid to prevent embarrassing confidential information behind Pikoli’s suspension from being made public.

The Sunday Independent reported sources told the newspaper that hours before Pikoli was to release documents detailing what he told President Thabo Mbeki and others about suspended police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi’s alleged corruption, he received a settlement offer from government.

The offer, which presidency spokesperson Mukoni Ratshitanga was unable to confirm or comment upon, proposed that Mbeki might consider lifting Pikoli’s suspension in exchange for his agreement to resign.

A source told the Sunday Independent it was highly unlikely that Pikoli — who says he was suspended because of his and the Scorpions’ refusal to end their probe into Selebi’ affairs — would accept the ”bizarre” proposal.

In a statement last Friday, Deneys Reitz confirmed that Pikoli would not ”at this stage” make public his submissions to the Ginwala commission.

”Mr Pikoli remains committed to doing so at the appropriate time,” the statement said.

This was ”as a courtesy to government and to allow it to make appropriate representations to Dr Ginwala about in-camera hearings”.

Government’s attorneys contend that making Pikoli’s submission public would jeopardise a ruling on in-camera hearings. It had indicated its intention to apply for certain parts of its submission to be held in-camera.

Mbeki suspended Pikoli on September 24 last year and former speaker of the National Assembly Frene Ginwala, was subsequently appointed on September 28 to head the inquiry.

At the time, Mbeki cited a breakdown of the relationship between Pikoli and Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla as the reason for the NPA head’s suspension.

The commission’s terms of reference cover two broad areas — Pikoli’s fitness to hold office and the working relationship between Pikoli and Mabandla. – Sapa

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