Silks split over NPA reforms

Two senior state prosecutors have resigned from the Society of State Advocates of South Africa after its newly elected chairperson, Kholeka Gcaleka, claimed that the body unequivocally supported the “courageous transformation agenda” of National Prosecuting Authority boss Menzi Simelane.

Prosecutor Retha Meintjes’ letter of resignation was leaked to the Mail & Guardian. The M&G has also seen the June 1 emailed resignation of advocate Mariana Brits, which says that she supports Meintjes. Interviewed this week, Brits declined to comment on her resignation, saying that it was “for personal reasons”.

In addition, the society’s Western Cape chapter has complained to the society about Gcaleka’s statement.

Meintjes resigned from the society with immediate effect after Gcaleka was quoted in the Sunday Independent saying that the advocates’ society supported the need for transformation of the NPA and backed Simelane’s restructuring plans.

Gcaleka was quoted saying that no concerns had been raised with Simelane about the proposed closure of the specialised commercial crime unit, the asset forfeiture unit and other units. There was no “closure per se”, but rather a streamlining of reporting, she said.


In a recent press release she said that it would be “business unusual” for the state advocates’ society and the NPA. Social cohesion and reconciliation in the NPA, the justice cluster and society remained national imperatives, she said. But these could be truly attained only if “anti-transformation forces, agendas and campaigns are unmasked and unflinchingly confronted head-on”.

Meintjes and George Baloyi, who worked on the Jacob Zuma corruption case until the charges were dropped last year, were among 16 senior state prosecutors Simelane demoted to lower courts. Gcaleka recently came under the spotlight when the M&G revealed that Simelane had chosen her and two other state advocates to replace advocate Gerrie Nel and his team as prosecutors in the Brett Kebble case and the trial of Mulangi Mphego, the police’s former crime intelligence head.

Mphego was charged with defeating the ends of justice, but the case was eventually thrown out of court. Meintjes said in her letter of resignation that it was clear from the comments made by society members that the views expressed in Gcaleka’s statement were not unconditionally shared by members.

Her resignation letter insisted that she is not opposed to transformation. “However, I am certainly not in support of transformation at all/any costs. I cannot reconcile myself with being a member of an organisation that appears to serve — as an alternative official mouthpiece,” Meintjes wrote. “The society has far too proud a history of independent, courageous acting in the unflinching interests of its members. In the circumstances I have, most unfortunately, no option but to resign with immediate effect.”

Meintjes could not be reached for comment, while Gcaleka said she knew nothing about any protest resignations. She asked the M&G to send questions, but the society’s secretary, Elaine Moonsamy, responded by saying that Gcaleka could not comment until the executive committee had met to discuss these issues.

However, NPA sources said many society members were now questioning the validity of the election of officebearers at its annual general meeting last month.

Other members have questioned how Gcaleka could say that the society unequivocally supports Simelane in his transformation agenda, given widely reported disputes between him and certain society members.

Instructions reassigning Meintjes and Baloyi were withdrawn last month after talks between their union, the Public Servants’ Association, and the NPA. The union is expecting to go back to the bargaining chamber to discuss Simelane’s restructuring plans, which have been put on hold until the justice, crime prevention and safety cluster strategy is finalised. — Additional reporting by Adriaan Basson and Jackie Mapiloko

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How smuggled gold destined for Dubai or Singapore has links...

Three Malagasy citizens were apprehended at OR Tambo International airport, but now the trail is found to connect to France and Mali

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

More top stories

R2.3bn VBS trial expected to only begin in 2022

The state is expected to request a 16 week-long trial, as delays stymie progress in the saga.

Spy boss tells how agency was used to detain Zuma’s...

Day two of State Security Agency testimony at the Zondo commission birthed more revelations that point to the former head of state and agents breaking the law

Covax will take excess doses of Covid vaccines off the...

The global initiative plans to deliver two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to developing nations

Eastern Cape citizens don’t have to visit the labour department...

This measure, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19, may shortly be introduced in other regions.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…