The National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) suspended executive Prince Mokotedi handed over his resignation letter when his disciplinary charge sheet was delivered to him at his home in Pretoria on Thursday.
The executive manager of the Integrity Management Unit, Mokotedi was charged with nine contraventions, including gross insubordination, dissemination of false and misleading information, and bringing the NPA into disrepute.
Although he has now resigned, Mokotedi said he still intended to go through with his disciplinary hearing to try to clear his name. “It is really scraping the bottom of the barrel. How do you blame a fish for the saltiness of the ocean?” Mokotedi asked.
“I am just a small fish to be charged with bringing the NPA into disrepute. Actually working for the NPA has tarnished my reputation. I handed them my resignation just now, when they gave me the charge sheet.”
Mokotedi was suspended six weeks ago, and last week he controversially went on air to tell Radio 702 and Power FM that he was going to resign by August 1 due to internal NPA in-fighting.
But his resignation was not forthcoming by last Friday and confusion around what he was up to with his media blitz continued to confound his NPA colleagues. Mokotedi told the Mail & Guardian his resignation had been delayed as he first wanted a guarantee that all the documents and emails on his laptop would be returned to him.
Charge sheet was delivered
As well as wanting all his work documents so he can prepare for his disciplinary, he said all the material he has been working on for his Phd in Social Research Methods was still on that confiscated laptop. “My letter of resignation was actually ready,” he said. “I had just been talking to my lawyers and saying that we should include a provision in my letter that my request would be complied with to give me a disc with all the documents on my laptop, as well as my emails.”
While the disc was not forthcoming when the charge sheet was delivered to him today, Mokotedi was happy with a guarantee from the NPA’s chief executive office Karen Van Rensburg, who said he would receive the material on Monday. The disciplinary charges against him have been sent to him by Van Rensburg.
“Karen gave me her assurance that the laptop would be delivered to me, and I am happy with that,” he said. “The man who has it is away on leave, and will only be back on Monday.” The essence of the complaints against him were centred on claims that he gave a report relating to corruption allegations against former prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach to the South African Police Service (SAPS), said Mokotedi.
Breytenbach has since quit her job and joined the Democratic Alliance as a member of Parliament. However, some of the charges might also relate to other issues he faced at the NPA. Mokotedi clashed with the national director of public prosecutions, Mxolisi Nxasana, who accused him of trying to dig up dirt on him and smear him. In turn, Mokotedi has laid a complaint against Nxasana with the Public Service Commission.
One of the reasons given to Nxasana by former justice minister Jeff Radebe for the State Security Agency not issuing him with a top security clearance was that he had allegedly prevented Mokotedi from investigating him, interfered with his investigation and then disbanded the Integrity Management Unit.
‘Devoid of truth’
Yet a top NPA source with knowledge of the conflict told the M&G these allegations levelled against Nxasana by Mokotedi were “devoid of truth” and Nxasana had not disbanded the Integrity Management Unit.
It was confirmed this week by Nathi Mncube, spokesperson for the NPA, that the integrity management unit had not been disbanded. Instead, Mokotedi’s reporting lines had been changed, he said. Speaking to Redi Tlhabi on Radio 702, Mokotedi discussed the battles at the NPA, and claimed it was divided into “Zuma and Zille” camps.
Asked which camp he was in, he said it was apparently the Zuma camp. Now that he has quit, Mokotedi said he now wanted to set up a centre for ethics and public affairs as a non-governmental organisation, and he would find money to fund it. In the meantime, he wanted to also focus on his pastoral career, and he has already during his suspension period travelled to Kenya for this religious work, and would now go to Uganda.
While Mokotedi now seems happy to be launching on his new path, Nxasana is still fighting for his career in what will probably be the toughest legal battle of his life. The M&G was informed he has now sought clarity from President Jacob Zuma on why he is considering suspending him from his post, according to a legal source.
As the head of the NPA is a presidential appointment, Zuma sent a letter to Nxasana last week, asking him to provide reasons why he should not be suspended. However, the legal source claimed Nxasana could not provide clear reasons on why he should not be suspended when it was still unclear on what grounds the President was considering suspending him.
‘The labour law is clear’
Those who support Nxasana in the NPA believe that previous attempts by Radebe in May to persuade him to step down related to moves by the prosecuting body to recharge suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli with fraud and corruption.
Radebe told Nxasana he had failed his security clearance and should step down, but he refused, saying he believed he was a fit and proper person for the job. The pressure against Nxasana intensified on July 5, when Zuma announced he was setting up a commission of inquiry into whether he was fit and proper for the role of head of the NPA.
But to date there have been no terms of reference provided for the commission of inquiry, and no further announcements about who will head it. Three senior legal figures in the NPA told the M&G they are backing Nxasana because he brought stability to the NPA, and had shown himself to be free of political influence.
“Whatever happened took place 30 years ago, and does not have any impact on his job. As far as Nxasana is aware, he has declared everything,” said an NPA high-ranking legal figure, who cannot be named as staff are not allowed to speak to the media.
“The labour law is clear, you can only suspend a person if you believe they will interfere with an investigation. The president announced the commission of inquiry into his fitness to hold office on the 5 July, and Nxasana has still been in office for more than a month. What has he done to suggest he will interfere with any investigation?”
Nxasana had revealed two assault common cases on his security clearance form, said the NPA source. The first took place when he was 17 years old and he had been cautioned and discharged, and the second case when he was still a teenager had resulted in him paying a fine of R50.
Radebe had also raised with him a murder charge he faced in court when he was 18, which he said he had not officially declared because he was acquitted on the grounds that he had acted in self-defence.
The NPA source said Nxasana told his legal colleagues at the NPA about the murder case before it was revealed in the media, and said it was not disclosed on his security forms because he had been cleared by a court of law.
Nxasana had been the victim of a smear campaign, which began shortly after he joined the NPA and revealed he was not going to be pressured by political influence, said the source. In the the midst of all this turmoil at the NPA, the highly respected and retired constitutional court judge Zak Yacoob has begun his external investigation into the ongoing friction at the NPA.
The fact finding commission, as it has been named, was instituted by Van Rensburg after the idea was unanimously accepted by the executive committee, which includes Nxasana, as the way forward to try to heal the rifts in the prosecuting authority. Mncube said Yacoob had not been given any time frames for the commission but it is anticipated he will finish his work before November.