JUSTICE Minister Jeff Radebe has defended new National Director of Public Prosecutions Menzi Simelane - and lashed out at the Public Services Commission and Ginwala Commission for suggesting that Simelane was unfit for public office.
"The attack on the credibility of Simelane by the Ginwala Commission was without foundation," Radebe told a media briefing at the Union Buildings yesterday.
Simelane testified before the Ginwala Commission in 2008 when it investigated his predecessor Vusi Pikoli's fitness for public office after he was suspended.
The commission said Simelane, then director-general of the Justice Department "invented allegations" against Pikoli, he was later forced to retract under cross-examination, and tried to "unlawfully interfere with Pikoli's prosecutorial independence".
Ginwala accused Simelane of being "arrogant, condescending and inventing baseless lies". She said Simelane's "conduct left much to be desired". After Ginwala handed down her findings, then justice minister Enver Surty asked the Public Services Commission to investigate Simelane's conduct.
And on November 3 2009, before President Jacob Zuma appointed Simelane as NDPP, an anonymous Pretoria advocate lodged a complaint with the Pretoria Bar against Simelane, using the Ginwala Commission findings as a basis.
The Pretoria Bar's ethics committee meets today to hear the complaint against Simelane. If they uphold the complaint they could decide to ask the Pretoria high court to strike Simelane off the roll of advocates, which would automatically disqualify him from working as the NDPP.
But Radebe played this down, saying Simelane would start work as NDPP today and "what happens in the future is neither here nor there".
He lashed out at the Ginwala Commission for accusing Simelane of "inventing allegations" against Pikoli, which he was later forced to retract, saying Simelane had merely corrected himself.
He also slammed Ginwala's finding that Simelane had failed to tell the commission about a letter from former justice minister Brigitte Mabandla to Pikoli. In the September 2007 letter Mabandla instructs Pikoli not to proceed with the arrest of former police commissioner Jackie Selebi.
Radebe said the Ginwala Commission already had the letter because Pikoli had attached it to his submission.
"The Ginwala Inquiry should have called minister Mabandla if they had any queries regarding the letter but failed to call her as a witness," Radebe said.
Radebe also lashed out at the PSC, accusing it of "flagrant abuse of Simelane's fundamental rights".
Radebe revealed for the first time that the PSC recommended that Simelane face a disciplinary inquiry, but he rejected this on the grounds that the PSC had never interviewed Simelane.
Radebe said he handed the PSC a written submission from Simelane and asked them to interview him, but they ignored his request and stuck to their findings.