THE suspension of senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach happened at the same time when the charges against suspended head of crime intelligence Lt-Gen Richard Mdluli came to a head, a disciplinary hearing against Ms Breytenbach was told on Thursday.

Ms Breytenbach is attending a disciplinary hearing where she faces 15 counts relating to alleged improper conduct.

The National Prosecuting Authority claims that between September 2010 and February this year, she colluded with the legal counsel of Kumba Iron Ore and Sishen mine to exert improper influence over a criminal investigation against Imperial Crown Trading (ICT). Ms Breytenbach also claimed that she was being victimised and filed a Labour Court application in which she contended that the acting national director of public prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba, suspended her in an attempt to protect former intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

Counsel for Ms Breytenbach, Wim Trengove SC, said on Thursday that during the first half of April, Ms Breytenbach and her colleague Jan Ferreira prepared a memorandum to challenge a decision taken in December last year not to charge Lt-Gen Mdluli and sought a review of that decision.

"It was prepared in the first half of April and it occurred at the same time you and your colleague were rummaging through her inbox," Adv Trengove told the NPA's acting senior manager of the Integrity Management Unit, Hercules Wasserman.

Adv Trengove said the memorandum was delivered to the office of the national director of public prosecutions on April 24. Two days later the head of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit in the NPA, Lawrence Mrwebi, responded to the memorandum and persisted with instructions that Lt-Gen Mdluli should not be prosecuted.

"On 30 April, Adv Breytenbach was suspended. Our inference is that she was suspended because she challenged the decision on Mdluli," Mr Trengove said.

Mr Wasserman said he did not know about the preparation of the memorandum by Mr Breytenbach and Ms Ferreira.

Adv Mrwebi had received representations from Lt-Gen Mdluli in November last year in respect of the case of abuse of the secret service account. Mr Mrwebi took a decision not to prosecute Lt-Gen Mdluli in December last year.

Adv Trengove also told the hearing that Ms Breytenbach would submit to Sandile July, the chairman of the disciplinary hearing, that the demands by Mr Wasserman that she hand over the laptop computer were unlawful as they did not accord with the NPA policy. A number of charges against Ms Breytenbach relate to her refusal to hand over the official laptop allocated to her and of deleting information from that computer.

Mr Wasserman said he saw it lawful to access the Ms Breytenbach's files as they were contained in a computer that was the NPA's property.

Adv Trengove also said Mr Wasserman's inference that Ms Breytenbach's attorney Gerhard Wagenaar had a password for her laptop computer while it was in his care was unfounded. Ms Breytenbach left the computer in the care of her attorney when she went on leave in February.

Mr Wasserman said in his evidence that Mr Wagenaar must have had access to her password when the laptop computer was in his care.

Adv Trengove also took issue with reasons given by acting National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba for suspending Ms Breytenbach. Ms Jiba suspended Ms Breytenbach, a few days before the deadline that Mr Wasserman had given Ms Breytenbach to respond to a complaint laid by Ronald Mendelow of ICT.

Ms Jiba stated in her affidavit filed before the Labour Court last month that she suspended Ms Breytenbach to prevent her from tampering with the NPA's data on the internal computer system.

Adv Trengove said the reasons given by Ms Jiba could not have been true. Mr Wasserman said he could not speak on behalf of Ms Jiba.

The disciplinary hearing continues on Friday.

mabuzae@bdfm.co.za