NPA claims Breytenbach case 'not urgent'
“Reputational damage can’t be used to lodge urgency, seeing as the accused waited a month before she filed the papers,” William Mokhari, for the National Prosecuting Authority, told the court.
“Investigations are a continuous and ongoing process and include the disciplinary action.”
Earlier, Breytenbach’s lawyer Andrew Redding argued the application should be an urgent matter because the publicity received in the case was negatively affecting her reputation.
“A suspension is the industrial equivalent of an arrest ... The matter is urgent on the basis that someone’s dignity is involved,” said Redding.
“It has been nationally reported on because a prosecutor is involved; the entire society is interested and [has] begun to form an image of my client.”
Arguing on the jurisdiction of the Labour Court to deal with the application, Mokhari said the matter belonged to the Bargaining Council or the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for conciliation and arbitration.
“This court can’t determine suspension in decisions related to unfair labour practice,” Mokhari said.
Struck off the roll
Mokhari said the urgency of the application should be struck off the court roll with costs.
Redding argued Breytenbach was not given information on why she was suspended.
“It is meaningless to suspend Ms Breytenbach without giving her sufficient information as to why the suspension. It’s not fair to not provide her with additional information,” Redding argued.
“She asked for information; she begged for information but she never got information about why she was suspended,” he said.
Breytenbach was suspended as the regional head of the specialised commercial crime unit on April 30, for conduct relating to cases allocated to her, the NPA said at the time.
Breytenbach submitted in court papers that the NPA had “ulterior motives” when it suspended her.
Redding said Breytenbach believed acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba suspended her in an attempt to protect former crime intelligence head Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli.
Mokhari argued that Breytenbach became personal towards Jiba, arguing that she never gave evidence and that it was based on belief and not fact.
“Where is the evidence? The respondent’s [Breytenbach] version is based on suspicion and is far-fetched and defamatory,” he said.
“The applicant became personal ...
She became so obsessed with advocate Jiba that everything is advocate Jiba ... Why would she be singled out?”
Mokhari argued that Breytenbach was not the only prosecutor working on the Mdluli case.
“This shows that the allegations are malicious and reckless because they are not based on a single shred of evidence,” he said.
“The applicant tried to run the disciplinary procedures through the labour court ... She concedes that the allegations [against her] are serious and that she wanted her day in the disciplinary proceedings and we have given her that day - she must come clear her name there.”
On June 19, Breytenbach’s disciplinary hearing was postponed to July 23.
The matter was postponed to next week. - Sapa