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Man who let Zuma off ‘asked’ to be judge

Published: 2010/02/ WYNDHAM HARTLEY

CAPE TOWN — The man who dropped fraud and corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma asked Justice Minister Jeff Radebe to find him a job as an acting judge. Radebe admitted yesterday this prompted him to investigate if any acting appointments were available. His astonishing revelation follows objections by the General Council of the Bar, the Law Society of SA and lobby group Justice under Law to the appointment of former acting director of national prosecutions Mokotedi Mpshe as an acting judge on the North West bench. Mpshe’s appointment fuelled criticism of interference in the judiciary by Radebe and perceptions that the appointment was a reward for dropping the charges. At a news conference yesterday, Radebe defended the appointment. He insisted that Mpshe, who has left the National Prosecuting Authority, was a fit and proper appointment to the bench. He accused the legal bodies of having a political agenda. Radebe charged that those objecting to Mpshe’s appointment because he was employed by the state did not do the same when lawyers or academics who had done work for the state were appointed to the bench. Their objections were founded in prejudice, he said. Radebe denied Mpshe was being rewarded, saying he had read of that in the media. Mpshe’s appointment was in the interests of justice as he was honourable, fit and proper. Radebe said Mpshe had approached him for an acting post, and he then initiated the process to find an acting vacancy in one of the court divisions that Mpshe preferred. Bar Council chairman Patrick Mtshaulana said he would comment on Radebe’s statements after discussion with his executive, “because of the seriousness of the allegations”.

hartleyw@bdfm.co.za  http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=94221