South Africa

Right of Response: “Amigos corruption trial: Lead prosecutor’s removal explained”

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 10 April 2015

On Wednesday, Daily Maverick published an investigative story by Glynnis Underhill, ‘Amigos’ corruption trial: Lead prosecutor’s removal explained'. Here is the response by Adv. Moipone Noko, Director Of Public Prosecutions, KwaZulu-Natal.

In response to the allegations in the Daily Maverick article: ‘Amigos’ corruption trial: Lead prosecutor’s removal explained, dated 07 April 2015, I want to clarify the following:

As the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), part of my duties is to be briefed on high profile cases in my jurisdiction, that being the province of KZN. Since the ‘Amigos’ case is one such matter I had to be briefed by the prosecution team in this regard.

Prior to my appointment as DPP, a prosecution was already being instituted against the accused in the ‘Amigos’ matter. The prosecution team advised me that numerous meetings were held to re-look at the evidence against each and every accused in the case. As a result of which, a rigorous exercise of going through the case dockets, documents, records of consultations and meetings as well as the indictment was embarked upon by the KZN prosecution team and prosecutors from outside the province.

The result of this rigorous exercise was the decision by the prosecution team that charges must be withdrawn against the following accused persons due to insufficient evidence to secure a successful prosecution:

  • Peggy Yoliswa Nkonyeni

  • Yolisa Lulama Mbhele

  • Michael Mabuyakhulu

  • Lindelihle Mkhwanazi

  • Nozibele Priscilla Phindela

  • Jabulani Langelihle Thusi

  • Ian Buhlebakhe Blose

  • Rowmoor Investments 738 (Pty) Ltd

  • Skyros Medical Investments (Pty) Ltd

  • Blue Serenity Investments (Pty) Ltd

The prosecution team consisted of the following officials: Adv. Dunywa (senior state advocate), Adv. Bulelwa Vimbani (senior state advocate at the time), Adv. Makhosi Mthembu (state advocate at the time) and Adv. Vincent Mcanyana (State advocate). Adv. Knox Molelle, Senior Deputy of Public Prosecutions, who is the regional head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in KZN, was also part of these meetings.

One of the reasons for the case being re-looked at was because three new prosecutors had just been roped in to assist Adv. Dunywa and they were not part of the initial decision to charge the 23 accused in the case.

After my appointment I met with the prosecution team on several occasions where they briefed me on the case. They further advised me that the charges should be withdrawn in respect of the abovementioned accused based on the reason mentioned above.  Adv. Dunywa was the lead prosecutor in these discussions and the recommendations were made by the team as a whole. Therefore it is not correct that I did not consult with the team before withdrawing the case.

Furthermore, even though I withdrew the case shortly after my appointment, the decision to withdraw had long been deliberated upon, before my appointment as explained above. Due to their motivation to withdraw charges, I agreed with their recommendations and withdrew the charges.

Furthermore, it is not correct that Adv. Dunywa could not have been aware of their recommendation to me to withdraw the charges because he was actually leading the discussions that resulted in the recommendations to withdraw against the accused mentioned above.

Regarding the removal of Adv. Dunywa from the case:

In early 2014, when the prosecution team had to respond to some of the representations that were received, Adv. Dunywa advised me (and the prosecution team) in an email that he has been removed from the case. His removal came as a surprise to me because I was not aware.

Regarding the alleged ‘cover up’ memo:

Due to the allegations in the media space that I withdrew the charges against the ten accused without consulting the prosecution team and that the withdrawal was politically motivated, I saw it fit to obtain something in writing from the prosecution team that would reflect the true state of affairs regarding what had actually transpired prior to the charges being withdrawn.

It needs to be clarified that none of the prosecution team members were forced to sign the memo. In actual fact it was the members of the prosecution team who drafted the memo, signed it and submitted it to me.

Furthermore, I am unaware of Adv. Ncedile Dunywa being in the ‘legal backwater’ as stated in the article. He is at work, attending to his cases like any other prosecutor in my office. He is no longer dealing with the Amigos case and as mentioned, that was not a decision taken by me.

It is unfortunate and unfair that the journalist Glynnis Underhill of the Daily Maverick chose to publish the story without first soliciting my version as this article attacks my integrity and borders on defamation of character. I reserve my rights to take the appropriate course of action at a later stage.

Kind regards

ADV. M. NOKO

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS

KWAZULU-NATAL

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