By Karyn Maughan
May 03 2008
A hacker is threatening to release sensitive documents stolen from Vusi
Pikoli's computer to the press - if the suspended National Prosecuting
Authority boss doesn't pay for their return.
Just days before Pikoli is due to fight claims that he is unfit to hold
office, the former NPA head has asked the press "not to facilitate the
commission of a crime by engaging with the hacker or any information
that he/she offers".
The Saturday Star has learnt that the anonymous hacker has not said how
much he wants in return for the documents and has indicated he is
willing to negotiate.
Pikoli's attorney, Aslam Moosajee, however, stressed that although his
client had strong grounds to believe his computer had been compromised,
he "would not give in to attempts to extort money from him".
"We have reported this matter to the appropriate authorities, as well as
to Dr Frene Ginwala (who is heading the inquiry into Pikoli)," he said.
Moosajee said the extortion attempt was "disturbing" but declined to
comment on who might be behind it. He also declined to identify what
documents may have been downloaded.
The incident comes six days before the much-anticipated first day of the
Ginwala Commission, at which Pikoli will argue that his suspension by
President Thabo Mbeki was motivated by the Scorpions' corruption
investigation into Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi.
Government lawyers last Friday stopped Pikoli from releasing documents
detailing what he had told Mbeki and other ministers about Selebi's
alleged wrongdoing, stating they would apply for parts of the hearing to
be held in secret.
The Sunday Independent last week revealed that, on that same day, the
Presidency had made Pikoli a settlement offer. Pikoli refused to comment
on the alleged deal, under which Mbeki would consider lifting his
suspension if he agreed to resign from his position.
Commission spokesperson Lawson Naidoo declined to verify that
"substantial disputes of fact" between the government and Pikoli had
prompted Ginwala to call for testimony from each side.
In a strange twist, it is understood that Justice Minister Brigitte
Mabandla - whose bad relationship with Pikoli was the reason given for
his suspension - will not take the stand. Instead, justice
director-general Menzi Simelane will lead the government witnesses
Earlier this week, in a response to businessman Hugh Glenister's
Pretoria High Court bid to stop the Scorpions from being disbanded,
Simelane stated under oath that the cabinet had not decided on the
crime-fighting unit's future.
A day later, the cabinet approved legislation that would enable the
government to shut the Scorpions down. Simelane insisted there was no
evidence South Africans were opposed to the unit being broken up and
rubbished suggestions that disbanding the Scorpions was aimed at
protecting ANC members from future investigations.
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