/ 27 March 2009

How justice DG will be probed

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has released the terms of reference for the public service commission’s (PSC) investigation into the conduct of Director General Menzi Simelane at the Ginwala inquiry into former prosecutions head Vusi Pikoli’s fitness to hold office.

President Kgalema Motlanthe has since dismissed Pikoli, citing his inability to appreciate matters of national security. This was later ratified by Parliament.

In her report after the hearing into Pikoli, inquiry chair Frene Ginwala was particularly scathing of Simelane’s behaviour during testimony. She found that Simelane had misled former justice minister Brigitte Mabandla and interfered with the constitutionally enshrined independence of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

Ginwala argued that Simelane ”had a duty to place all relevant information before the inquiry. His testimony before the inquiry was also not particularly helpful to me; his evidence was contradictory and I found him to be arrogant and condescending in his attitude towards advocate Pikoli.”

Motlanthe subsequently noted Ginwala’s comments and raised concerns before calling for Justice Minister Ever Surty to investigate the matter. Surty called on the PSC to investigate the matter but declined to suspend his DG.

In a statement issued by the justice ministry on Thursday the PSC is called upon to ”investigate, evaluate and report” to Surty ”regarding conduct of Advocate Menzi Simelane towards the Ginwala inquiry, the National Prosecuting Authority, the National Director of Public Prosecutions, as well as the previous Minister of Justice and Development”. The ministry added that the investigation should be with reference to the following allegations:

”The alleged misrepresentation of facts and the alleged failure by Adv Simelane to provide impartial and relevant advice to the Ginwala Inquiry;

”The alleged withholding of documents under his care which were relevant to the Ginwala Inquiry;

”Any other alleged material misrepresentation made by Adv Simelane to the Ginwala Inquiry; and

”Whether or not any alleged conduct of Adv Simelane, as referred to in the Ginwala Report amounts to a breach of any Act, regulations, code of conduct or any other prescript, that are applicable in respect of his duties as Director General”

The ministry concludes by asking the PSC to advise on ”how the matter should be dealt with further”.