The assignment of Kholeka Gcaleka as state prosecutor in the murder case against crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli has raised eyebrows.
Last year two senior state prosecutors, Retha Meintjes and Mariana Brits, resigned from the Society of State Advocates of South Africa after Gcaleka, its newly elected chairperson, claimed that the body unequivocally supported the “courageous transformation agenda” of Menzi Simelane, the national director of public prosecutions, and backed Simelane’s controversial restructuring plans.
Gcaleka also came under the spotlight last year when Simelane chose her and two other state advocates to replace advocate Gerrie Nel and his team as prosecutors in the trial of Glenn Agliotti for the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble and in 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.
Confidential letters written by Simelane were leaked to the Mail & Guardian at the time, revealing that he had “personally” decided to appoint state advocates Dan Dakana, Lethabo Mashiane and Gcaleka to prosecute Mphego and Agliotti.
The charges against Agliotti were dropped in the South Gauteng High Court in November last year with Judge Frans Kgomo saying the state had not made a prima facie case.
Some legal sources told the M&G they were surprised Gcaleka had been assigned to another high profile case, this time involving Mdluli, as, according to Khasho, the internal newsletter of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), she only started her career as a prosecutor in 2004.
But Mthunzi Mhaga, NPA spokesperson, firmly defended its actions in assigning her to the case. “We have confidence in advocate Kholeka Gcaleka and all our prosecutors who are assigned to handle high profile cases, as they possess the prosecutorial expertise required in dealing with such cases. “In fact there are [other] advocates working with her on the case, namely advocate Deon Barnard and advocate Zaais van Zyl,” said Mhaga.
Thirty-year-old Gcaleka declined to comment, saying she was bound by the policy of the NPA, which did not allow state prosecutors to talk to the media.