'Prosecutors not spokespersons'

THE new national director of public prosecutions, Menzi Simelane, has forbidden prosecutors from talking to the media without authorisation, his office said yesterday.

THE new national director of public prosecutions, Menzi Simelane, has forbidden prosecutors from talking to the media without authorisation, his office said yesterday.

"It comes from the head of the institution. He wants us to have more control over what gets communicated and how it gets communicated," Simelane's spokesperson Bulelwa Makeke said.

Makeke said the directive was relayed in an internal document and was effective "immediately as an amendment to our current media policy".

She said the NPA has had many issues as a result of prosecutors talking to the press and was surprised the policy change was attracting criticism.

"If you have 3000 employees and every one speaks to the media, how are you ever going to have control?

"We are not saying they cannot talk, they just have to have proper authorisation. If there is a case that is going to attract a lot of media attention, they can get authorisation beforehand. But there are always things you can and cannot say," Makeke said.

Makeke said prosecutors now had to approach the directors of prosecution in their province for permission to respond to media inquiries.

Simelane, a former director general of justice, became head of the NPA in December, a year after Vusi Pikoli was controversially fired from the post. His appointment provoked an outcry, partly because of the severe criticism by the Ginwala Commission of his conduct in the Pikoli saga.

DA justice spokesperson Dene Smuts said the new media policy was a mistake.

"Just as it was hard to imagine a more inappropriate choice for NDPP than Mr Simelane it is difficult to think of a more unfortunate public relations approach than that he has now taken, given the widespread view that he tried to turn the NPA into an instrument of government while he was DG and that he will continue to do so as NDPP.

"It is good for open justice and authoritative reporting that prosecutors talk to reporters," Smuts said. - Sapa

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