Home South African DA, Breytenbach mum on Gcaleka ‘slept her way to the top’ remarks

DA, Breytenbach mum on Gcaleka ‘slept her way to the top’ remarks

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The DA has remained tight-lipped amid mounting pressure to distance itself from and take action against its MP and former National Prosecuting Authority prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach for her remarks accusing acting Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka of “sleeping her way to the top”.

Former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach: Picture: Thobile Mathonsi, Independent Media

THE DA has remained tight-lipped amid mounting pressure to distance itself from and take action against its MP and former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach for her remarks accusing acting Public Protector Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka of sleeping her way to the top.

Breytenbach told MPs during a debate and vote on Gcaleka’s nomination as the new public protector that her success in the NPA was as a result of her “intimate relationship” with her boss.

“The very cosy relationship, and some say intimate relationship, with her boss, the rather odious Menzi Simelane, led to speedy promotions and her very vocal and active support of his role in the capture of the NPA,” Breytenbach said.

She was ejected from the House, having refused to withdraw her remarks.

The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) became the latest organisation to voice its outrage over Breytenbach’s “derogatory and stereotypical” remarks, which it said had no place in a democratic society that values inclusivity and diversity.

“Nadel would like to remind all political parties, including the Democratic Alliance, of the importance of respecting and upholding gender equality, professionalism and dignity in public discourse.

“In a country striving to eliminate sexism and discrimination against women, especially in senior positions within the public and private sectors, such comments are unacceptable and regressive. Nadel firmly believes in gender equality and condemns any form of discrimination or prejudice against women in the legal profession or any other field.

“Nadel further urges all political parties to commit to fostering an environment of respect and equality for all individuals, regardless of gender, race or background,” Jali said.

The Legal Practice Council said Breytenbach’s remarks reinforced gender stereotypes that women were not competent to occupy professional spaces and perpetuates the harmful narrative that, where they have advanced, this was only attributable to trading sexual favours.

“These comments are damaging and cast aspersions not only on advocate Gcaleka but on women in general.

“Let us deal with the issue and raise our views without diluting efforts of transforming and advancing the interests or growth of women in the legal profession and beyond. While there may be strong and opposing views on the suitability of advocate Gcaleka candidacy, the degeneration of the debate (without any evidence or substantiation) merely serves to objectify advocate Gcaleka and to undo the gains made by women legal professionals at great personal and professional cost.

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

Both Breytenbach and the DA declined to comment on Monday.

Approached for comment, the Office of Public Protector of South Africa (PPSA) said: “Acting Public Protector advocate Kholeka Gcaleka is seized with leading an institution established to support and protect South Africa’s constitutional democracy and cannot allow herself to be distracted from that obligation.”

In an opinion piece, policy analyst, researcher and human rights activist Nkosikhulule Nyembezi, said: “In the face of the hurling of insults and slander, we must refuse to normalise them. How insensible of DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach to use the debate to settle her scores by tearing into the experience of Gcaleka, her former colleague at the National Prosecuting Authority, and cast doubt about her competence to take the position!

“How appropriate for the Speaker to eject her from the chamber for refusing to withdraw her insults and insinuations! How misguided it was for DA leader John Steenhuisen to object by launching a stinging attack on Mapisa-Nqakula, calling her a liar, disgraceful and dishonest person who did not understand and follow the parliamentary rules!”

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