DURING the recent Radio 702 interview with President Jacob Zuma, a policeman phoned in to say that he happened to know that several of his colleagues were on the take. He wanted to know from Mr Zuma how he would be protected if he were to blow the whistle on his corrupt colleagues. Mr Zuma acknowledged the problem and said: "We need to find a way to handle the matter."
Judging from the disciplinary hearing of suspended prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, the process of finding a way to "handle the matter" can't happen fast enough. A ruling has not been handed down yet, so final assessment must wait until that has taken place. However, the evidence so far suggests the need for an inquiry not into Ms Breytenbach, but into her accusers. By bringing this case, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has put its own reputation on the line.
The authority accused Ms Breytenbach of a range of transgressions, but the central claim was that she was biased in the Kumba-Imperial Crown Trading case. The lesser charges were presented as grievous incidents of doing outside work, allowing the implication that somehow Breytenbach was secretly working for Kumba, the complainant in this matter.
Yet now that the evidence has been presented, it is clear that Ms Breytenbach was ordered off the Kumba case months before the NPA began suspension investigations. In fact, she was working on a different case at the time, involving former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, who is accused of abusing secret crime-intelligence funds.
As for the accusation of working outside the organisation, the best the NPA could come up with is that Ms Breytenbach rented out a flat and was compensated for stabling someone's horse. In a public service riddled with serious cases of corruption, it beggars belief that a body such as the NPA would bother with something so trivial. Furthermore, the way the NPA discovered this information was by combing through her e-mails on the server, which is on the face of it illegal.
The big problem is that it is all too easy for the public to guess, correctly or incorrectly, what probably happened: Ms Breytenbach was investigating some high-powered, politically sensitive cases, and those with something to hide decided the easiest way to evade responsibility was to remove the prosecutor.
The only way the NPA can escape this supposition is by bringing these cases to court. It is three years since Kumba brought what seemed like an open-and-shut complaint that its submission for mining rights was fraudulently copied. Oddly, this case has gone cold. It is time for the NPA to explain why it has failed to bring this matter, and the Mdluli investigation, to any kind of conclusion.