/ 25 November 2009

Menzi Simelane to head up NPA

Former justice director general Menzi Simelane has been appointed national director of public prosecutions with effect from December 1.

Former justice director general Menzi Simelane has been appointed national director of public prosecutions with effect from December 1, the Presidency said on Wednesday.

”President Jacob Zuma has appointed the Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Menzi Simelane, as the national director of public prosecutions with effect from December 1 2009, in terms of section 10 of the National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] Act 32 of 1998,” the Presidency said.

Simelane takes over from Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe.

Mpshe will return to his position of deputy national director of public prosecutions.

”President Zuma thanked advocate Mpshe for his leadership of the NPA during a challenging time of transition in the leadership of the institution,” the statement said.

The Presidency said Simelane’s experience as the administrative head of the Justice Department and in the legal fraternity ”provides him with the necessary skills and capacity to perform his functions efficiently and effectively.

”The National Prosecuting Authority is a critical arm of the criminal justice system and a key instrument in the broader fight against crime and the implementation of justice. Its independence and vigour in the pursuit of justice must at all times remain unquestionable. We have confidence that advocate Simelane will make this an utmost priority,” read a statement from Zuma, en-route to a Commonwealth heads of government meeting.

According to the Presidency, Simelane, born in 1970, completed his BProc degree in 1993 and LLB in 1995. He was admitted as an advocate of the high court in 1996 and commenced pupillage at the Durban Bar. After that, he joined the Johannesburg Bar in 1997.
In 1999 he was appointed commissioner for the Competition Commission, where he was involved in making decisions on mergers, acquisitions and anti-competitive practices, their impact on the economy and the economic transformation agenda of government.

In June 2005 he was appointed director general of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. In October 2009 he was appointed by the president as the deputy national director of public prosecutions at the NPA.

Ginwala inquiry
Frene Ginwala, who headed up the Ginwala inquiry into former prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli’s fitness for office, severely criticised Simelane — who was director general in the Justice Department at the time — in her final report, calling him arrogant and condescending towards Pikoli.

Ginwala labelled his evidence before the inquiry ”contradictory and without basis in fact or in law” and blamed him for suppressing the disclosure of information. This specifically referred to a legal opinion advising Simelane that he did not have authority over the NPA, as he had claimed.

Simelane’s conduct was ”irregular” and Ginwala even suggested he might have contravened the NPA Act by drafting a letter to Pikoli that instructed him to abort the imminent arrest of former police boss Jackie Selebi.

Although a formal inquiry was set up to inquire into Simelane’s conduct before Ginwala in February this year, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe declined to take disciplinary proceedings against him. Instead, last month he was appointed as deputy national director of prosecutions.