Mike Hellens SC, an advocate who represented Kumba in its mining rights dispute with Imperial Crown Trading (ICT), testified in the disciplinary hearing of suspended prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach on Thursday that the police sometimes relied on the help of lawyers of the complainants in complex criminal cases.
The testimony of Mr Hellens is crucial in the case of Ms Breytenbach, who is accused of colluding with him to exert improper influence against ICT in the police investigation of the complaint lodged by Kumba.
Ms Breytenbach has denied the charge, and claims her suspension was for an ulterior motive: to prevent her prosecuting Richard Mdluli, the suspended head of police crime intelligence.
Kumba lodged a complaint in 2010 as required by the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, which makes it a duty for any person in authority to report to police the offences of theft, fraud and forgery.
The report to the police centred upon title deeds belonging to Kumba being photocopied in an amateurish way and appended to a prospecting right application that was launched by ICT, Mr Hellens said.
He said after producing the report, his team met the police officials and explained the complaint, and his team left with the impression that the police service would open the docket.
Mr Hellens said police were usually overburdened and relied on the complainant’s legal representative, in complex criminal matters, to help them.
He said most auditing firms had forensic divisions which work with police in criminal matters.
"I have done many cases where they (forensic divisions) are originators of the entire docket."
Mr Hellens cited a case where South African Breweries had a member of staff who had done something wrong, and said its forensic division had produced the entire docket.
Mr Hellens said the role of the investigating officer where the docket had been prepared by others was to satisfy themselves that everything was in order. He said as long as police remained independent and in control, there was no limit as to what help the complainants could offer.
Wim Trengove SC, for Ms Breytenbach, pointed Mr Hellens to e-mail correspondence from Ms Breytenbach in July 2011 where Ms Breytenbach asked Mr Hellens to explain the case to the investigating officer.
It is in one of the e-mails that Ms Breytenbach said police needed assistance to draft affidavits that would be used by the police in their application for search and seizure warrants to attach documents belonging to ICT employees and officials.
Mr Hellens is the second witness called by Ms Breytenbach to defend herself against the charges she is facing.
The first witness she called was Anthony Norton, an attorney who represented Kumba. He said Ms Breytenbach had told the team representing Kumba that she and the investigation team were in charge and would decide on the scope of the investigation.