/ 22 November 2009

Pikoli walks away with R7,5-million

Former National Director of Public Prosecutions Vusi Pikoli will receive R7,5-million after reaching an out-of-court settlement with the government, the Presidency announced on Saturday.

Former president Thabo Mbeki suspended Pikoli on September 24 2007 and Frene Ginwala, former speaker of the National Assembly, was appointed on September 28 to head an inquiry.

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

”The two parties acknowledge that a breakdown took place in their relationship, and now wish to restore their relationship to one characterised by mutual trust and respect,” Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said in a statement .

”Mr Pikoli shall be paid an amount of R7,5-million in full and final settlement,” he said, adding that government welcome the ”successful” conclusion of this matter.

Pikoli took government to court over his non-reinstatement after being cleared by the Ginwala Commission.

The terms of the agreement include that Pikoli withdraw the application before court.

‘I would not have cleared Zuma’
Meanwhile, Pikoli testified last week he would not have withdrawn criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma if he was still heading the NPA.

Pikoli was testifying at the corruption trial of former police national commissioner Jackie Selebi at the South Gauteng High Court.

He also accused Selebi of having an ”evil and cruel mind”.

Pikoli was questioned by Selebi’s council, Jaap Cilliers, about the alleged interference of Pikoli’s predecessor, Bulelani Ngcuka, in the work of the Scorpions.

According to Cilliers, acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe ”emphatically” stated in his announcement to withdraw the corruption charges against Zuma that Ngcuka still exerted ”strong influence” over the Scorpions after he left office in 2005.

Pikoli responded that he didn’t know what Mpshe based his statements on.

”Do you agree with what he said, with his view of the matter?” Cilliers asked, to which Pikoli answered: ”I would’ve arrived at a different conclusion. I would’ve admitted that there was improper conduct, but as to whether it went to the heart of the investigation, that is something I would’ve looked at differently.”

Mpshe withdrew the charges against Zuma in April after Zuma’s lawyer presented him with transcripts of intercepted conversations between Ngcuka and former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy, allegedly pointing to political interference in Zuma’s prosecution.