THE media must be allowed to attend the disciplinary hearing of suspended National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach if it did go ahead, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled on Monday.
Judge Ronel Tolmay said it was of utmost importance that the media had access to the hearing as it dealt with important constitutional duties of a prosecutor.
The hearing would deal with matters of significant constitutional importance and should be in the public domain, she said.
She said the dispute was whether Ms Breytenbach acted in breach of her constitutional duties or whether the NPA breached its duties when it suspended her.
Ms Breytenbach was suspended as regional head of the specialised commercial crime unit on April 30, allegedly for conduct relating to cases allocated to her.
"Therefore, the public has the right to be present, via the media, in these proceedings," Judge Tolmay said.
Ms Breytenbach insists she was suspended because she pursued charges against the head of police crime intelligence at the time, Richard Mdluli, but the NPA rejects this.
On Wednesday, Johannesburg Labour Court Judge Hamilton Cele dismissed Ms Breytenbach's application against her suspension because, he said, she failed to show there were compelling or urgent circumstances to justify a final declaration of the unlawfulness of her suspension.
Judge Cele said, however, that if the NPA did exercise its right to discipline Ms Breytenbach, it could be found to be "flouting and frustrating" the aims of an investigation ordered by the high court in Pretoria into Lt-Gen Mdluli's suspension.
On Friday, Media 24, Avusa Media and M-Net launched an urgent application for access to Ms Breytenbach's disciplinary hearing.
Permission for the print media was initially granted by disciplinary hearing chairman Barry Madolo, but the NPA subsequently said Mr Madolo, who has since recused himself from the hearing, had no authority to make such a decision.
The national director of public prosecutions is opposing the application on the grounds that disciplinary hearings are private affairs and that the presence of the media might intimidate witnesses.
With Ernest Mabuza