Breytenbach silent following scathing attack on Gcaleka

Following a backlash as a result of her remarks about public protector Kholeka Gcaleka in parliament last week, DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach has chosen to remain mum.

Breytenbach told MPs during a vote in the National Assembly on Thursday that Gcaleka’s success in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was as a result of her “intimate relationship with her boss”.

At the time, parliament was debating a recommendation that Gcaleka be appointed as the next public protector, replacing advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, whose tenure ended recently.

Speaking to Sunday World on Monday, Breytenbach said: “I will not be commenting on that.”

Asked why she will not be commenting, she responded: “I am not going to comment. Have a lovely day. Bye.”

Her refusal to comment followed calls by the Legal Practice Council (LPC) for her to publicly withdraw the scathing remarks.

Baseless personal insults

LPC spokesperson Kabelo Letebele said Breytenbach’s remarks amount to baseless personal insults launched against Gcaleka.

“The LPC notes with alarm the remarks made by DA MP and former senior NPA prosecutor, advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, in parliamentary proceedings to nominate advocate Kholeka Gcaleka to be the new public protector,” said Letebele.

“During the debate, advocate Breytenbach implied that advocate Gcaleka’s success and progression in the NPA was not based on merit but due to an inappropriate romantic relationship with the then NDPP boss [national director of public prosecutions] Mr Menzi Simelane.”

Breytenbach said at the time: “Her [Gcaleka] very cozy relationship, and some say intimate relationship, with her boss Menzi Simelane led to speedy promotions, as well as her vocal and active support of his capture of the NPA.”

Gender stereotypes

Letebele said while the LPC fully respects and promotes the right of parliamentarians to engage in free and robust debate, it cautions against these debates degenerating into baseless personal insults.

“The remarks by advocate Breytenbach regrettably reinforces gender stereotypes that women are not competent to occupy professional spaces.

“[They] perpetuates a harmful narrative that where they have advanced, this is only attributable to trading sexual favours,” said Letebele.

LPC CEO Charity Nzuza said Breytentach’s comments are damaging and cast aspersions not only on Gcaleka but on women in general.

“Let’s raise our views without diluting efforts of transforming and advancing the interests or growth of women in the legal profession and beyond,” Nzuza said.

Letebele said Breytenbach’s remarks undermine the great strides made by female legal professionals in the workplace.

He said: “The LPC accepts that this may not have been advocate Breytenbach’s intention and looks forward to her publicly withdrawing the aspersions made against Gcaleka.”

Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the National Assembly has not made any decision on whether it will act against Breytenbach.

“The comments made by the MP [Breytenbach] were deemed inappropriate by the speaker of the National Assembly, who then asked her to retract them,” said Mothapo.

“Upon her refusal, the speaker ordered her to leave the house. No decision has been made about additional measures.

“Such remarks, considering the assembly’s decorum and regulations, are unacceptable in parliamentary discussions, no matter how vigorous or heated.

“It is for this reason that the speaker ruled them unparliamentary and promptly took appropriate action.”

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