Publication: City Press Issued: Date: 2004-07-31 Reporter: Comment

He was Brave, but Human, Too



City Press

Date 2004-07-31



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The departure of the national director of public prosecutions was bound to be controversial. Having taken office amid concerns that he would use his powers to cover up for his ANC comrades, Bulelani Ngcuka stunned everyone by going for the big guns within the ANC.

It had been inconceivable to many of us that one so embedded within the ANC would take the chief whip of the organisation, Tony Yengeni, from Parliament, drag him through the courts and secure a conviction.

The same applied to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her fraud case, as well as Deputy President Jacob Zuma and the corruption allegations. It needed guts to do it and Ngcuka showed he had plenty. Which was good.

But Ngcuka is also human, and thus given to the frailties that afflict all of us. Thus he made mistakes. The statement about Zuma being guilty yet not having enough evidence to charge him was a mistake.

Ngcuka's response to the findings of public protector Lawrence Mushwana that the statement about Zuma was wrong, was a low blow. The attempts at apologising just made it worse, as he apologised to the nation for being exposed to the insult but not apologising to the insulted man.

All of this made Ngcuka's position untenable and he had to go. But while these blemishes are real, many South Africans will remember him for the courage of his convictions, his arrogance notwithstanding.

With acknowledgement to the City Press.