Nel announced on Tuesday that he had resigned from the NPA on Monday at 24 hours notice after 36 years of service, but would not talk about his reasons for leaving beyond saying that he'd been considering it for a while and was not angry with the NPA. He joined Afrikaner rights organisation AfriForum, starting from Wednesday to head up its new private prosecutions unit.
News24 said that NPA head Shaun Abrahams ordered the investigation into Nel and other senior prosecutors three days before Nel resigned.
When News24 asked Nel if he was aware of the complaint against him and if this had anything to do with his resignation, he replied "not at all". He did not comment further.
News24 said the complaint was registered on December 20 and relates to allegations of tampering with evidence.
"Insiders believe this complaint may have been the straw that broke the camel's back," said News24.
The four prosecutors were allegedly the focus of a complaint lodged by a Laudium businessman, over bringing the administration of justice into disrepute. The businessman has four cases open against him, arising from an ongoing dispute with another Laudium family; he alleged that cases against the other family were dropped. Abrahams sent the complaint to the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) director of public prosecutions (DPP) to follow up. Abrahams' letter does not name those being investigated but the original complaint names Nel and three other senior NPA members.
"I reiterate the seriousness of the allegations and remain committed to resolve this matter soonest," Abrahams wrote to the KZN DPP.
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told News24 they would be guided by the investigation.
News24 learnt that the complainant in the matter had approached the Hawks with the case, who said they were waiting for the complainants to make statements.