Media release

Further statement on suspension of National Director of Public Prosecutions

01 October 2007

1 October 2007

Following media reports regarding the suspension of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Government would like to re-iterate its statement issued on September 24 that the decision to suspend the NDPP was taken on the basis of a breakdown in the working relationship between the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.

It should be noted that Section 179 (6) of the Constitution entrusts the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development with the final responsibility and oversight over the prosecuting authority. The President suspended the NDPP on the basis of his conclusion that the relationship breakdown had the potential to hamper the discharge of the Minister’s constitutional obligations and that this could affect the administration of justice.

The details of the breakdown in the relationship will be the subject of an enquiry which will be led by Dr. Frene Ginwala. President Mbeki appointed Dr. Ginwala in terms of section 12 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act 32 of 1998. The enquiry will look into Advocate Vusi Pikoli’s fitness to hold office as the National Director of Public Prosecutions. In terms of the NPA Act, should the President decide to remove the National Director from office, after receiving the report from the enquiry, he is required to communicate his decision to Parliament within 14 days after such removal. Parliament has the power to debate the matter and recommend to the President whether or not the National Director should be re-instated. Government wants to give the assurance that this process is being implemented in terms of the letter and spirit of the law and the constitution.

Dr. Ginwala is held in high regard by many South Africans as she has demonstrated in many instances that she is able to put country before party in matters of national interest. She will give details of how she intends to execute this task at an appropriate time. We call on members of the media to refrain from seeking interviews with her as her focus must be on beginning the enquiry as soon as possible. Dr. Ginwala has advised that she would like to commence and conclude the enquiry as soon as possible because this matter is of national importance.

We have noted all the media speculations about the possible reasons for the suspension, but we regret to advise that no further details will be divulged as this might pre-empt the outcome of the enquiry.

Government categorically denies the allegation that the suspension of the NDPP was meant to protect the National Commissioner of Police, Mr. Jackie Selebi, as there would be no basis for the President to protect the commissioner.

Government upholds the constitutional principle of impartiality in the administration of justice and expresses full confidence in the criminal justice system’s capacity to deal with all matters of criminality without fear or favour. We trust that South Africans will exercise patience and allow enquiry the opportunity to conduct its work.

Themba Maseko - Government Spokesperson
Cell: 083 645 0810

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)


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