Zuma shuts down inquiry into NPA boss Mxolisi Nxasana

The inquiry into national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana’s fitness to hold office has been “terminated”, according to advocate Nazeer Cassim.

Cassim was to have chaired the inquiry, which was meant to have started at the SA Law Reform Commission offices on Monday morning. But instead it was announced by that he had received instructions to cease the inquiry from the presidency on Sunday night.

“The chairperson received a call from the presidency last night to say it must not go ahead,” said inquiry spokesperson Andile Tshona.

It was not made clear why the inquiry had been terminated, but unconfirmed reports suggested that Nxasana has agreed to resign his post.

Nxasana’s appointment was announced on August 30 2013, effective from October 1 2013, but less than a year later reports emerged that he had allegedly not disclosed that he had been acquitted of murder in 1985. He had also reportedly not received his security clearance yet.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the inquiry in terms of Section 12(6) of the National Prosecuting Authority Act of 1998. Section 9(1) b of the act states that: “Any person appointed an NDPP must be: a fit and proper person, with due regard to his or her experience, conscientiousness and integrity to be entrusted with the responsibility of the office concerned.” 

The terms of reference of the inquiry said that certain facts had come to light that raised “real and important questions regarding Mr Nxasana’s fitness and propriety to hold office”.

According to the terms, matters the inquiry would investigate include: 

  • His two previous separate convictions of assault;
  • The complaints of professional misconduct laid against him with the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society; 
  • His having faced criminal charges for acts of violence; 
  • His arrest and detention on criminal charges; 
  • Issuing and/or making media statements and/or causing media statements to be issued that undermine or bring the office of the NDPP or the National Prosecuting Authority into disrepute; 
  • Any other matters as may be relevant.

The inquiry must be completed six weeks from the date of commencement and the president can extend it if necessary. A report of its work must be completed two weeks after the inquiry completes its work.

Acquitted of murder
Nxasana said in an interview with the Witness last year that he was 18 at the time of the murder accusation that he was acquitted of. “Yes, I was at my girlfriend’s place in C-Section and we were attacked. I am forced to talk about the incident against my will. When these guys attacked us, my brother was hacked with a bush knife, and I grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed one guy. Sadly, I heard later that he had passed on.” 

The Mail & Guardian reported that the incident was in 1985 and he was acquitted in 1986.

The Sunday Times also reported that Joyce Khumalo, a former girlfriend of NPA head Mxolisi Nxasana laid an assault charge against him in 1986 because he allegedly beat her up. Joyce Khumalo died of unrelated causes in 1998. The Sunday Times also reported that he had been charged with reckless and negligent driving and resisting arrest and was fined R2 000 for misconduct by the law society.

Suspensions, removals
The post of NDPP has been fraught with suspensions and removals. Bulelani Ngcuka resigned in 2004 after surviving the Hefer Commission of Inquiry into whether he had been investigated for being a spy for the apartheid government. The accusation was believed by some to be linked to his decision to pursue corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma, which related to an alleged bribe from an arms company. 

Nguka’s successor Vusi Pikoli was also subjected to a commission of inquiry headed by former Speaker of Parliament Frene Ginwala in 2007, which related to a decision to lay criminal charges of corruption against now deceased national police commissioner Jackie Selebi. Selebi was convicted and died while on medical parole in January 2015, but Pikoli had long been removed after a vote in the National Assembly in 2009.

Mokotedi Mpshe was acting NDPP until Menzi Simelane, a former director general in the department of justice was appointed as NDPP in 2009. The Democratic Alliance lodged a successful court application challenging his appointment and in November 2011 his appointment was declared invalid. Nxasana’s deputy, Nomgcobo Jiba appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria in April to face two counts of fraud and one of perjury, related to an attempt at prosecuting KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss, Major General Johan Booysen for racketeering. The opposition DA has often said the troubles at the NDPP are because of attempts at protecting Zuma from being investigated further. – News24

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