Thursday, March 20, 2008

Ginwala Hearings Are Open to the Public in South Africa


Ginwala hearings open to the public

Thu, 20 Mar 2008

Hearings of the Ginwala Commission of Inquiry into suspended National Director of Public Prosecutions Vusi Pikoli will be open to the public, the commission said on Wednesday.

The commission was scheduled from 5-7 May to hear argument from government and Pikoli over his fitness to hold office, spokesperson Lawson Naidoo said in a statement.

"The hearings will be open to the public. Some matters which are pending, sub-judice or by law not open to public disclosure will be heard in camera," he said.

The dates for argument were finalised in a meeting between the commission, government and Pikoli on Wednesday.

They were requested to provide the commission with written submissions on their arguments.

Government has until Friday 4 April to make this submission and Pikoli will have to do the same by 11 April.

President Thabo Mbeki suspended Pikoli on 24 September and the former speaker of the National Assembly, Frene Ginwala, was subsequently appointed on 28 September to head the inquiry.

At the time, Mbeki cited a breakdown of the relationship between Pikoli and Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla as the reason for the NPA head's suspension.

The commission's terms of reference cover two broad areas, namely Pikoli's fitness to hold office and the working relationship between Pikoli and Mabandla.

The terms of reference include questions on whether, when deciding to prosecute offenders, Pikoli took sufficient regard "to the nature and extent of the threats posed by organised crime to the national security of the Republic".

The terms also question whether, when he granted immunity from prosecution or entered into plea bargain arrangements with people involved with organised crime, "he took due regard to the public interests and the national security interest".

At the end of the inquiry, Ginwala will submit a report to Mbeki who would decide how and when he would make the findings public.


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