Attorney Anthony Norton, who represents mining giant Kumba Iron Ore, testified that he had received a tip from an attorney, who he did not want to name, regarding a director of their rival Imperial Crown Trading (ICT).
Norton testified that he was told that ICT director Archie Luhlabo had evidence on his company – who is being investigated for fraud in relation to a mining rights application – and that Luhlabo would possibly turn state witness in return for indemnity.
The NPA's Mandla Zulu put it to Norton: "We will argue that this information does not exist, on the basis you don't want to disclose the name of these informants."
To which Norton responded: "Are you suggesting I am lying about the evidence I have testified about? It is not a fiction, it's a fact. You don't come here to lie to these proceedings. If the NPA thinks it can hide behind qualified attorney privilege, I will sue them all for defamation." To which Zulu shot back: "Don't threaten me."
Norton explained that the NPA had no "factual basis" for its proposition and that the name of the attorney, whom he had dealt with, was confidential. "The party who disclosed the information about Luhlabo to us may feel it is sensitive and he may not want his identity disclosed," Norton said.
Zulu then demanded to know why Norton had not discussed the hearing with the attorney, who the NPA has always asserted don't exist.
There was a brief adjournment to allow Norton time to try and call the attorney in question but he could not get hold of him. Zulu said the information was vital to the rest of his cross-examination. Breytenbach was suspended in April 2012 for her alleged lack of impartiality in the fraud investigation into ICT.
The company has been locked in a battle with rival miner Kumba Iron Ore's subsidiary Sishen Iron Ore Company (Sioc) over a multibillion-rand stake in the Sishen Iron Ore mine in the Northern Cape since 2009. Breytenbach was accused of "engaging" Sioc's legal counsel, advocate Michael Hellens, against ICT in the drafting of affidavits for an application for a search-and-seizure warrant in 2010.
* Got a tip-off for us about this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.