I Was Wrong to Lose My Temper - Ngcuka
Jeremy Michaels, Angela Quintal
Prosecutions boss Bulelani Ngcuka has apologised to the public for losing his temper, but vowed to continue his battle with Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana.
Ngcuka publicly went for Mushwana after being accused of violating Deputy President Jacob Zuma's constitutional rights during a Scorpions corruption investigation last year.
Addressing the Institute of Directors in Cape Town yesterday, Ngcuka said: "I wanted to start off by apologising to you, and through you to the people of South Africa, that I shouldn't have done that.
"It was wrong of me to do that, I let you down ... because I allowed myself to behave in the same manner as our detractors."
Ngcuka's spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, said it had been decided to apologise after looking at the analysis in newspapers and other media about the response.
"Everyone said the tone was not right. It is fitting if the nation says we didn't do something right that we should go back and apologise."
However, Ngwema said Ngcuka stood by his rejection of the report.
While saying he was "very sorry about the remarks that I made", Ngcuka was adamant Mushwana's report "remains totally unacceptable".
He also apologised on behalf of Penuell Maduna, the former justice minister and, until recently, Ngcuka's political boss.
However, Ngcuka added: "Having said that, I want to make it equally clear - I'm going to fight that report because that report is fatally flawed. We are going to smash it into smithereens, but we'll do it correctly. When we go to parliament, we will show how flawed it is."
Ngcuka's apology came after the ANC, of which he and Maduna are leading figures, slammed the trio - including Mushwana - for making "ill-considered" statements about each other.
Ngcuka and Maduna launched a scathing attack on Mushwana at the weekend, describing the public protector on SABC TV as having "no backbone".
Mushwana in turn said he would seek legal advice on whether he could lay charges against the two for attacking the integrity of his office.
Ngcuka said he was "annoyed" that the Mail & Guardian newspaper, which had "been leading this attack on me" for weeks, had been leaked details of the report to the extent that its lead story last Friday had said Mushwana was "turning the heat" on him.
However, when Ngcuka finally read the report later in the day, he "became very angry", and Maduna "had reached the boiling point".
"When I spoke to the (SABC), I snapped - I said what I said, which I really regret."
Answering journalists' questions later, Ngcuka said he and Maduna would approach parliament to tell their side of the story once a committee had been set up to deal with Mushwana's report.
Ngcuka declined to say why the report was "fatally flawed', saying he'd tell parliament.
Mushwana was not available for comment.
With acknowledgements to Jeremy Michaels, Angela Quintal and The Star.