NEWS

Gerrie Nel's Integrity Is Key To His New Position

Analysts says former state prosecutor Gerrie Nel will not be a pushover or be told what to do.

31/01/2017 18:27 SAST | Updated 02/02/2017 11:06 SAST

Former state prosecutor Gerrie Nel's integrity is expected to be key in his new position as a private prosecutor with AfriForum.

A law expert from the University of the Witwatersrand Professor James Grant says the man termed "The Bulldog" is known for his meticulous approach to cases and he expects him to maintain the same standards in his new job.

He says despite the new appointment being with a civil society movement at the forefront of Afrikaner rights, it will be very difficult to box and channel him in a certain direction.

"Given his character, any person will struggle to tell him when and who to attack. I think we can all trust he is a man of integrity. If AfriForum would try to tell him what to do then they have another thing coming," he said.

Nel dominated the news agenda on Tuesday when it emerged he had resigned from his job with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Many South Africans were further stunned to learn he would be taking the position of a private prosecutor with AfriForum.

Nel called on the public to give him a chance to prove he has no hidden agenda and that he will be not be told what to do or influenced in discharging his duties. He said the organisation had not asked him about his political affiliation before being given the post.

"I have not had a single question about my political affiliation at any discussions with AfriForum. I've never had a political agenda and I don't have one now. I've been a prosecutor for 36 years and I think I've built up an integrity I am proud of... I won't sell it.I won't sell my integrity and do something that I don't believe in," he said.

Nel said they will start the new office on Wednesday, and he challenged everyone to watch and see if he changes his integrity.

Grant said the concept of a private prosecuting office was needed in the country but he would have preferred it being established by a different entity.

"Would I prefer it if it was a neutral non-governmental organisation (NGO) doing this? Yes I would, but there is none. All things considered, I think this is a great development for our country," said Grant.

AfriForum is a civil society organisation "with the aim of protecting the rights of minorities". In October, AfriForum launched an anti-corruption unit, in cooperation with private investigator Paul O'Sullivan.

The organisation has pushed the narrative of discrimination against white Afrikaners in South Africa, a claim that has been widely rubbished. They have taken footage of farm murders to the United Nations in an effort to get the concept wider recognition.

Nel has a wealth of experience as a prosecutor.

Professor David Unterhalter from the University of Cape Town regards Nel as a career prosecutor and says his decision indicated that he wants to continue doing what he loves. He said the decision to leave the NPA pointed to serious differences within the organisation.

"It appears he has differences with the head of the NPA regarding the direction of prosecutions. He has exited public prosecutions and decided to continue in a different guise," he said.

Unterhalter said despite the NPA losing such an experienced prosecutor, the organisation doesn't rest on the laurels of a single prosecutor, and added that sometimes people need to further their careers elsewhere.

He said the move by AfriForum to set up the unit indicated that they believed certain prosecutions were not taking place.

"It's an indication that Nel and AfriForum believe the NPA is not discharging its duties," he said.

Grant agreed with Unterhalter saying Nel was probably not happy with his working environment. He said the striking off the roll of controversial NPA head Nomgcobo Jiba and the disastrous charging of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan might have also played a role in his decision.

"There was also the difficulty with charging President Jacob Zuma. I don't know his real reason but my guess would be that he was seriously frustrated," said Grant.

MORE:News