Motlanthe decides against reinstating Pikoli

President Kgalema Motlanthe has decided against keeping Vusi Pikoli on as national director of public prosecutions.

”I have come to the determination that advocate Pikoli should be relieved of his responsibility as the country’s national director of public prosecutions,” Motlanthe said at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Motlanthe said he took the decision to dismiss Pikoli because an inquiry into his suspension found that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head had given too little regard to national security matters.

”The report indicated that advocate Pikoli was not sensitive to the very important matter of national security,” Motlanthe told reporters.

The inquiry was released on Monday. It recommended that Pikoli be reinstated, although the report found that his conduct held a real risk of undermining national security.

Motlanthe’s decision will be communicated to Parliament and the legislative body will have to consider it.

When asked if there was any political influence on his decision Motlanthe said: ”This really is my own decision. It has no other influence”.

Pikoli was disappointed by the news that he had lost his job, his attorney, Aslam Moosajee, said.

”Mr Pikoli is obviously very disappointed,” said Moosajee, who had instructed the lawyers who represented him at the inquiry into his fitness to hold office.

”We are busy digesting all of this and will decide our next move.”

Tlali Tlali, spokesperson for the NPA said there was no immediate comment on the announcement.

Former president Thabo Mbeki suspended Pikoli on September 23 last year, citing a breakdown in relations between Pikoli and former justice minister Brigitte Mabandla.

Pikoli, however, said it was because his office planned to arrest police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi for corruption. He said Mbeki was shocked when presented with the news that Selebi, who was also the head of Interpol at that time, was about to be arrested.

The inquiry was held in Johannesburg this year, chaired by former speaker of Parliament Frene Ginwala.

Matters that arose during the inquiry included a submission that Pikoli posed a national security threat.

He had to answer for the lack of security accreditation for his officials tasked with searching former deputy president Jacob Zuma’s office during investigations against him, and that he appeared to ignore a draft report alleging a coup to bring Zuma to power.

The prosecution authority’s entering into plea-bargain arrangements with people involved in organised crime was also queried.

Pikoli also had to defend the line of communication between himself and Mabandla during crucial investigations when he believed that, although he had kept her informed, constitutionally, he could work independently of her when deciding on prosecutions.

Among those who testified were Presidency director general Frank Chikane, Justice Ministry director General Menzi Simelane, national intelligence director general Manela Manzini and senior Scorpions prosecutor Gerrie Nel.

Neither Mbeki nor Mabandla testified, but their correspondence on the Selebi matter formed part of the submissions.

Mbeki was asked to resign by the African National Congress in September, partly because of a Pietermaritzburg High Court judgement, in which Judge Chris Nicholson questioned what he considered an inappropriately close relationship between the president, justice ministers and national directors of public prosecution in the long-running investigation into allegations of corruption against Zuma.

The Star reported on Monday that Mbeki has again denied any knowledge of any wrongdoing by Selebi.

He said he found analysis about the report into suspended prosecutions very frustrating.

Mbeki said he remained convinced that no proper evidence of wrongdoing had been brought to him about Selebi when he was in office, and that full cooperation had been given to the investigators. He said he expected to be vindicated. — Sapa, Reuters

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