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FXI calls on president to release report on enquiry into official's fitness to hold office

(FXI/IFEX) - The following is an FXI press statement:

FXI requests President Motlanthe to make the Ginwala Commission's Report public

The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has written to President Kgalema Motlanthe to request that he make the Ginwala Commission's Report on the fitness of Adv Pokoli to hold the office of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) available to the public by Friday, 14 November 2008.

In September 2007, Dr Frene Ginwala was appointed by the former President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki, to conduct an enquiry into the fitness or otherwise of the NDPP, Adv Pikoli, to hold office. Adv Pikoli was suspended by the President in terms of section 12(6)(a) of the National Prosecuting Authority Act 32 of 1998, which empowers the President to suspend the NDPP from office pending an enquiry into the fitness or otherwise of the NDPP to hold such office.

Dr Ginwala held hearings where parties were given an opportunity to present their cases and to address the issues raised by the terms of reference. The hearings commenced on 7 May 2008 in Johannesburg and have been concluded. Dr Ginwala has now finalised the report, which was submitted to President Motlanthe during the course of last week.

In the letter, the FXI pointed out that the public has a Constitutional right to receive information contained in the report. In fact, the suppression of this information will inevitability lead to an increased climate of distrust and speculation about the probity of the actions of the former President in suspending Adv Pikoli, as well as those of the Minister and even Adv Pikoli himself. Only by allowing the public to interact directly with the report will public confidence in the enquiry be maintained. In view of the fact that the hearings were held in the open, there are no obvious compelling reasons for the report to be withheld from the public. If there are sections of the report that need to be withheld for legitimate reasons, then these should be excised from the report, but should not be used as a reason to withhold the entire report.

There has already been much speculation in the media about the contents of the report, particularly that the report vindicates Adv Pikoli. The release of the report will make speculation unnecessary, as the public will be able to determine for themselves the reasoning behind the conclusions arrived at by the Commission. Failure to do so would constitute a gross infringement of the public's rights and a total disregard of the State's obligation to respect, protect and promote the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

There is also a compelling public interest in the Commission's findings, as it concerns whether former President, Thabo Mbeki, and/or the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Ms Brigitte Mabandla, abused their power by intervening in order to protect the Commissioner of Police, Mr Jackie Selebi, who was facing impending arrest and prosecution on charges of corruption.

Updates alert on the suppression of information in the Pikoli case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/93736

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