METING OUT JUSTICE IS A TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE
The Constitution of South Africa is second to none in terms of separating powers in respect of levels of government. It further sets out clearly what each organ of state has to do under which circumstances. Unfortunately at times tend to be blurred.
The National Prosecutions Authority, as an organ of state, has to function independently of political influence and act without fear, favour or prejudice. This unfortunately seems to be elusive to those manning the office. The NPA seems to have lowered guard and does not serve the interests of the nation nor does it live to the expectations of the Constitution.
There are innumerable cases that have been thrown out of court by magistrates and judges because of ineptitude on the part of the NPA. Invariably the judiciary decries that the prosecution could not make a solid case as such the accused are left to go.
The withdrawal of the case against President Zuma in the run-up to the 2009 General Elections left many South Africans surprised. This happened without him having had a date in court as he had been crying that he was being tried in the media. The NPA had, without query, used a ruling from some country without taking into account that in that case the individual had appeared in court. The powers of the NPA will remain a big guess going forward.
The country is waging war against drug abuse yet a case involving drug pedlars was left unchallenged in the Constitutional Court. The case involving Cheryl Cwele and Frank Nabolisa, is one case in which the NPA should have shown that in keeping with the mores of government drug peddling will not be tolerated. The two were sentence to 12 years each by the High Court and they appealed against the sentences; the Supreme Court of Appeal then, in an effort to say no tolerance for drugs, added eight years to each one's sentence. They exercised their right to take the matter to the Constitutional Court. The latter court, in a majority judgement, reduced the sentences to 12 years each as set by the High Court.
Of interest is that the judges, through the pen of Justice Chris Jafta, decried that the State failed to apply for leave to cross–appeal in the case and therefore lost its right to appeal. It sounds like something in wonderland yet it is here in South Africa. “Stop drugs lords in their tracks” yet when drug lords appeal against a sentence they are left unchallenged.
On the flip side, the NPA charges a colleague of theirs Glynnis Breytenbach. The case drags for a year. The chair of the disciplinary inquiry, appointed by the NPA, finds that they had absolutely no case against her in all cases levelled against her.
The NPA then feels they have to take the case for review and even strives to have her expelled forthwith. Breytenbach is described as a xanthippe in prosecution. She is not the type of official who can be got rid of when there is such a great dearth of prosecutors as evidenced by the laments of the courts. The NPA should not waste resources by going against one among them when they have cold feet in pursuing outright criminals.
It boggles the mind that they did not see it fit to cross-appeal the Cwele-Nabolisa case yet they can't find sleep on the internal matter on Breytenbach. Whatever the reasons, there is a feeling that the Cwele case was let go because it involved the wife a minister, divorced as they may be they are not strangers to each other.
The nation is being fooled when an organ of state like the NPA behaves the way they do under the cloak of exercising independence. The public out there is concerned that to what extent is the NPA handling their affairs without fear, favour or prejudice.
Sent by: Sipho Mfundisi