Former senior state prosecutor and now Member of Parliament for the Democratic Alliance, Glynnis Breytenbach, on Monday told the High Court in Pretoria that she had only deleted files from her National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) work laptop to protect her privacy.
She said some of the documents belonged to the police, but ‘they were not part of the NPA’s official documents.’
While on the witness stand, Breytenbach said she was unaware that she deleted files at the time.
Prosecutor Raymond Mathenjwa asked Breytenbach to explain whether the deleted documents were not the NPA’s official information. Breytenbach said some of the documents belonged to the police, but they were not part of the NPA’s official documents.
Mathenjwa said evidence previously presented in court stated there were more than 41 folders in the laptop, but Breytenbach hired an expert to permanently delete 13 folders.
“What criteria did you use to select those that were deleted?” Mathenjwa asked.
Breytenbach responded: “I did it very quickly. I used the criteria of what I viewed as personal or private information. That is photographs, matters that had absolutely nothing to do with the NPA, matters that I was helping people with –matters that I was entitled to do but had no impact on the NPA and were not done in the official capacity. That was the criteria”.
“I was intending to delete personal information or private information.”
Mathenjwa argued that evidence previously placed on record stated that Breytenbach deleted the Kumba Iron Ore versus Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) folders because the information was readily available elsewhere.
Breytenbach insisted that she intended on deleting her personal information from the laptop “without knowing that they [the Kumba Iron Ore versus ICT folders]” were there.
Earlier, she told the court that if she was on a mission to destroy evidence contained on the NPA laptop, she would have “poured coffee on it or arranged for it to be stolen”.
Breytenbach was suspended from the NPA in 2012. She was cleared on numerous disciplinary charges, but she resigned from the NPA in 2014. She believes her suspension in April 2012, was a bid to stop her from prosecuting former police crime intelligence head, Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, amid political interfere.
On the other hand, at the time the NPA said she was suspended because of her handling of a criminal investigation relating to a mineral rights dispute between mining companies ICT and and Kumba Iron Ore over Kumba’s Sishen Mine.
In June, Magistrate Brian Nemavhidi acquitted Breytenbach and her former attorney Johan Wagenaar on two counts of defeating the ends of justice relating to the wiping of the information on the NPA laptop while she was on suspension in 2012.
However, they are still in court for the remaining charges relating to the four additional charges of contravening the Section 40 A of the NPA Act 32 of 1998 — which prohibits unauthorised access to, and modification of official computer content.