JOHANNESBURG - Constitutional Court judges on Tuesday demanded to know why President Jacob Zuma and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe decided to consider Menzi Simelane as head of the National Prosecuting Authority.
The judges also wanted to know why findings of dishonesty against Simelane were ignored.
Lawyers for the Justice Ministry said it was up to the president to appoint the NPA and his decision was rational.
They are appealing a Supreme Court of Appeal decision that struck down Zuma's appointment of Simelane.
Judges frequently returned to the one question first posed by Judge Johan Froneman.
“My question is why a person, who is controversial, would be the first and only person the president considers,” he asked.
The Justice Ministry's counsel Marumo Moerane started to feel the pressure, but he stuck to one answer.
“The president regarded Mr. Simelane as a proper person to fulfill the objectives of the Constitution.”
Meanwhile, Simelane's advocate David Unterhalter said the Constitution conferred its powers to the president when appointing an NPA head.
Earlier, the Justice Ministry told the Constitutional Court the President and the Justice Minister disagreed with the findings of the Ginwala Commission when they appointed Simelane.
Advocate David Unterhalter said Simelane was acting as a civil servant.
The ministry also said he was a person with years of experience in government.
Moerane faced tough questions from Judge Johann van der Westhuizen about the findings of the commission.
“What did the appointers, the Justice Ministry and President, in this case do to investigate those insinuations or findings which cast doubts over the candidate’s independence and integrity.”
Moerane disagreed and believed Simelane was a fit and proper appointment.
“We are dealing with a person who has been in the public service for more than 10 years.”
The lawyer faced a barrage of questions on why no other candidates were considered for the post.
(Edited by Zethu Zulu)