JOHANNESBURG - Choosing a person to head the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) is a weighing exercise within the power of the president, NPA boss Menzi Simelane's lawyers told the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.
Advocate David Unterhalter said Simelane was acting as a civil servant. Thus it was the then Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla’s decision to make a submission to the Ginwala Commission into whether Vusi Pikoli was fit to hold office as national director of public prosecutions. That submission was later found to be an attempt to mislead the commission.
Former speaker of Parliament Frene Ginwala, who led the commission, slammed Simelane's conduct in her findings.
Unterhalter reiterated the appointment of the NPA head was the president’s "prerogative."
“The Constitution gives the president the power to engage that exercise and reach the judgements that are required for that purpose.”
Unterhalter said Simelane was a civil servant when he drafted a letter to Pikoli (who was NPA boss at the time), urging him not to proceed with the prosecution of former police chief Jackie Selebi.
“The submission that was made, and it appears in the papers, is the submission of the Minister.”
In his reply, Unterhalter said Pikoli himself did not see the letter as attempt to interfere with his powers.
(Edited by Zethu Zulu)