Reporter: Paul Simao
SAfrica President Suspends Public Prosecutor
- South African President Thabo Mbeki has suspended the head of the country's
public prosecuting agency because of a "breakdown" in his relationship with the
justice minister, the government said on Monday.
The suspension of Vusi
Pikoli as national director of public prosecutions is effective immediately,
government spokesman Themba Maseko said in a statement. Mokotedi Mpshe,
currently Pikoli's deputy, will take over the duties.
The move came amid
a bitter turf war between the police and the Scorpions, an elite police unit
that was under Pikoli's control, which had escalated to the cabinet level and
soured relations with Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla.
sided with the police, arguing that they were the superior crime-fighting
"The relationship breakdown had adverse implications for the NPA
and the functioning of the criminal justice system," the statement said. It
added that the change would not compromise the pursuit of justice, especially
the battle to reduce sky-high levels of violent crime.
There was no
comment from Pikoli.
The Democratic Alliance, the country's main
opposition party, called on parliament to investigate the matter.
move also followed allegations that the Scorpions had been overzealous in pursuing a corruption case against African
National Congress Deputy President Jacob Zuma and had attempted to smear the
Supporters of Zuma, who is vying to succeed Mbeki
as ANC president at a leadership conference in December, contend that senior
government officials have been conspiring to deny Zuma the
The Zuma camp was particularly furious earlier this year when
a mysterious report suggested his presidential campaign was being financed by
Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Libyan leader Muammar
A corruption case against Zuma collapsed last year for
procedural reasons. But prosecutors are pushing ahead with the investigation and
are expected to charge him again with bribery and fraud in connection with a
government arms deal.
Zuma was acquitted of rape in a separate trial
earlier in 2006.
With acknowledgement to Paul Simao