Gerrie Nel says the decision to join lobby group AfriForum as the Head of AfriForum’s private prosecuting unit, didn’t happen over night.
“I want to make it clear that this decision wasn’t something I decided on yesterday, there has been consultation and conversation going back a year or more about my career, about what I want to do. And then I made the decision and decided to implement it, it wasn’t easy,” Nel said at a press briefing on Tuesday.
He went on to say that while he may have been popular as a prosecutor, South Africa has a large number of brilliant prosectors that he will ‘always be with in heart’.
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“It was very difficult for me. I’m leaving behind a lifetime, 36 years of prosecution is a lifetime. We have brilliant prosecutors in South Africa, and I’m just one of them. I just did a matter that was all over television in the country,” he says.
Addressing the issue at hand, Nel went on to explain why he decided to join AfriForum.
“Everybody should be equal before the law. I’ve known and I’ve read and I’ve seen more and more perception that there might be selected prosecutions taking place and if that is so, than I think it is absolutely brilliant to have an organisation that can just make sure that everybody is really equal before the law; that there are no selected prosecutions,” Nel said.
“It’s only AfriForum that came up with this concept. It’s only AfriForum that’s willing to put your sources there. If you hate such an office, because they want to do that – I certainly want to help and I’ve not had a single question about my political affiliation at any discussions at AfriForum,” he said.
“I’ve never had a political agenda, and I don’t have one now. I understand all the perceptions, but I encourage people to follow us, criticise us, if there’s anything wrong, if you think we have other agendas, then challenge us with that,” he went on to say.
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Gerrie Nel became known as the “Bull Terrier” during the much publicised Oscar Pistorius trial. Nel earned his name due to his aggressive style of cross-examination as he teared into Pistorius during the murder trial of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Nel gained popularity amongst many South Africans on the way that he handled the Pistorius case.
Nel also successfully prosecuted the case of former National Commissioner Jackie Selebi. The case also grabbed international headlines. Selebi was sentenced to 15 years in jail for corruption, fraud and racketeering.
Nel’s life was not without controversy as he was arrested in 2008 , while he was still the head of the disbanded Scorpions in Gauteng. He was charged with fraud, defeating the ends of justice and perjury. However, the charges against the prosecutor were later withdrawn.
– Additional reporting by Zukiswa Zimela