The Accusation Game 2.0: Prince Mokotedi vs NPA
- Alex Eliseev
- South Africa
- 01 Aug 2014 (South Africa)
On Thursday, the National Prosecuting Authority’s outgoing manager, Prince Mokotedi, spent an hour on live radio making sweeping allegations against his soon-to-be-former colleagues. In return, Freedom Under Law described him as the “master of disinformation” and challenged him to make his claims under oath. In the words of legendary anchorman Ron Burgundy: “Well, that escalated quickly”. ALEX ELISEEV reports.
[UPDATE] The NPA has now announced the creation of what its calling a 'fact finding committee' into the allegations which have been made by Mokotedi and others. The inquiry will be chaired by a judge and, says the NPA, "all those involved will participate". The allegations include the existence of the so-called "Zuma / Zille" camps which has resulted in bitter power struggles and infighting,
What began as a few interviews by Prince Mokotedi about his resignation from the National Prosecuting Authority has turned into a dramatic, and very public, display of dirty laundry, hurling of allegations and fresh questions about some of South Africa’s most high-profile investigations.
Mokotedi is the suspended head of the NPA’s Integrity Management Unit who was due to hand in his resignation and leave quietly without facing a disciplinary hearing over allegations that he leaked a sensitive report.
It certainly hasn’t worked out that way.
Mokotedi is still resigning, only his departure has been anything but quiet. On Thursday, he spent almost an hour speaking on the Redi Tlhabi show, making a wide range of allegations with deep implications.
Mokotedi repeated his claim that the NPA is divided into political camps (the Zuma and Zille camps) and compared himself to “a soldier abandoned behind enemy lines”. He said he was tired of the infighting and was leaving. Mokotedi was forced to defend his decision not to stay and help clean up the organisation and claimed he could be just as effective from the outside.
He raised concerns about transformation in the NPA, insisted the corruption investigation into president Jacob Zuma was closed, denied there was any interference in the Richard Mdluli case and asked whether the prosecution of disgraced police chief Jackie Selebi was tainted. He accused respected prosecutor Gerrie Nel of wielding untold power within the organisation and claimed that a rhino horn that was once in Nel’s office had mysteriously disappeared and that all efforts to investigate this were “crushed” or “run over”.
The missing rhino horn may have been a good place to stop, but Mokotedi continued, accusing former NPA boss Vusi Pikoli of not being sensitive to national security and saying that the legacy of the Scorpions cases needs to be dealt with.
Whether you believe the allegation or not, listening to the interview left one with a great unease about whether the NPA is able to prosecute objectively – without fear or favour – given the level of power struggles and political battles going on inside.
At the same time, Beeld was reporting that former Scorpions advocate Jeff Ledwaba has been accused, in court, of having R10,000 deposited into the account of a prosecutor handling his fraud and theft case. Apparently as an attempt to derail or sabotage the case. If that doesn’t shock you, then nothing will.
Later in the afternoon, Talk Radio 702’s Xolani Gwala picked up on the Mokotedi allegations and interviewed Freedom Under Law’s Johann Kriegler and Justice Department’s Mthunzi Mhaga.
(The NPA did not respond to Mokotedi’s claims, which is in itself a response).
Kriegler, a retired judge, described Mokotedi’s allegations as the “tricks of a master of disinformation” and warned people not to believe any of them. His message was that if Mokotedi has anything to say, he should do so under oath, where he can be cross-examined and his accusations tested. Kriegler said that the honourable thing for Mokotedi to do would be to stop defaming his colleagues, stay in his job, fight the suspension and help heal the NPA.
Mhaga defended the NPA by talking about its high conviction rate and the recognition it has received globally for various cases, including the Oscar Pistorius and Shrien Dewani ones. He conceded there are leadership challenges (or as we like to call them: problems) but that they did not impact on the performance of the prosecutors at ground level.
Mokotedi had claimed that the NPA could only be set back on the right path with the intervention of a minister or a director-general, who would be prepared to deal seriously with transforming the organisation.
Whether Mokotedi is a whistle blower or a master of disinformation with nasty tricks up his sleeve, the issues which have been raised are crucial and should not be ignored. The future of South Africa may depend on it. DM
Alex Eliseev is an EWN reporter. Follow him at @alexeliseev
Photo: Prince Mokotedi (NPA)