Pikoli lawyers feel inquiry was protective of Mbeki

Lawyers for Vusi Pikoli believe the inquiry into his fitness to hold office was unduly protective of the former justice minister Brigitte Mabandla and former president Thabo Mbeki.

“The inquiry was unduly protective of the minister and the president. Some of its findings against Mr Pikoli were a manifestation of its determination to protect the minister and the president. They should be judged in that light,” read the submissions, signed by Pikoli’s advocates, Wim Trengove, Tim Bruinders and Benny Makola.

These were among their submissions on the findings of the inquiry, chaired by former speaker of Parliament Frene Ginwala, and made at the invitation of President Kgalema Motlanthe before he made a final decision to relieve Pikoli of his duties.

Neither Mabandla nor Mbeki gave oral evidence at the inquiry into Pikoli’s fitness to hold office after Mbeki suspended him in September 2008, citing a breakdown in his relationship with Mabandla.

Earlier, Pikoli’s instructing attorney, Aslam Moosajee, said Pikoli was disappointed by the news that he would be fired.
They would consider whether to make a submission when the report went to Parliament for confirmation, or to launch a court challenge.

In their submission to Motlanthe, they reiterated their earlier belief that Pikoli was only suspended by Mbeki on September 23 last year because the National Prosecuting Authority intended arresting police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi as part of a corruption investigation.

They rejected the finding that Pikoli had not recognised the security implications of arresting Selebi and had not given Mbeki enough time to deal with the national security aspect of this.

Pikoli’s lawyers did not agree that he should have “obsequiously” obeyed Mbeki over the time frame of Selebi’s arrest.

They rejected the finding that he had acted against the interests of national security on the “Browse Mole” report by former director of special operations Leonard McCarthy. The report alleged a foreign-funded coup to install African National Congress president Jacob Zuma as president of the country.

They said he had done everything he was supposed to do by informing intelligence authorities.

He had also correctly referred a request for assistance by Malawian authorities on one of their investigations to the Intelligence Department, they wrote.

“His principal accusers were disgraced and the case against him discredited. The minister was the government’s principal witness on a number of crucial disputes. She chose not to give evidence. The inference is that her evidence would not have withstood the scrutiny of cross-examination. The DG gave evidence in her stead. He was, however, discredited,” they continued.

They said the inquiry had vindicated Pikoli and found no basis to doubt his fitness for office, and recommended that he be restored to office.

They said Ginwala wrote that Pikoli had “unimpeachable integrity and credibility”, which they regarded as a “resounding endorsement” of his fitness to hold office.

“The inquiry concluded that, despite its criticisms, Mr Pikoli should be restored to the office of National Director of Public Prosecutions. We submit that this conclusion is not only correct but inevitable.”

However, on announcing that he would be relieving Pikoli of his duties on Monday, Motlanthe said Pikoli had embraced all the findings in his favour, and rejected those against him.

“More significantly, I formed the view that advocate Pikoli’s representations exhibited a failure on his part to acknowledge the serious deficiencies identified by the inquiry.”—Sapa

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