The demographics of a team of prosecutors sent on overseas trips were at the heart of a fall-out between Justice Department director general Menzi Simelane and suspended head prosecutor Vusi Pikoli.
This emerged during cross-examination of Simelane by Pikoli's advocate Wim Trengove in Johannesburg yesterday, at the start of the second sitting of the Ginwala Inquiry into Pikoli's fitness to hold office. Simelane submitted that as the NPA's accounting officer, he was required to sign off on approved expenditure.
But, he had questioned a number of memoranda from Pikoli for expenditure for travel, particularly international trips, advising Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla not to approve them.
"I held a different view [to Pikoli] about the size of delegations and the profile of the people to travel," Simelane told the inquiry.
"The people didn't represent the demographics of the country and NPA," he said. He had asked that the delegation be more "representative".
In reaction, Pikoli had written to Mabandla, pleading that he be allowed to do his job.
"I cannot be told by the director general what a scarce resource is," Trengove read from a letter sent a year into Pikoli's tenure.
He found this "annoying, undermining, totally unacceptable".
Asked what steps Mabandla took to resolve the issue, he replied: "She asked me to discuss the issue with Mr Pikoli and that I should note his concern." "Anything else?," asked Trengove.
"She said you must discuss this with Mr Pikoli because you are the accounting officer and he is the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions and you should be able to resolve this issue," Simelane replied.
"The minister is making the case that Mr Pikoli is unfit for office because of this difference between you and him," Trengove told Simelane. The hearings will continue until July 4. - Sapa