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Vusumzi "Vusi" Pikoli (born 29 March 1958 in Port Elizabeth) is a South African advocate and the former head of South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority. He is noted for instigating criminal charges against disgraced South African police commissioner Jackie Selebi and ANC president Jacob Zuma. In 2008 he was suspended from his duties by President Thabo Mbeki, a close confidant of Selebi, and then subsequently fired by Mbeki's successor, Kgalema Motlanthe, who is an ally of Zuma. As such, opposition parties and sections of the press have claimed Pikoli is the victim of two separate political conspiracies. In October 2014 Pikoli was appointed as the Western Cape's first police ombudsman by Premier Helen Zille, whose choice was unanimously backed by the provincial legislature's standing committee on community safety.[1]

Vusi Pikoli
Director of National Prosecuting Authority
In office
PresidentThabo Mbeki
Preceded byBulelani Ngcuka
Succeeded byMokotedi Mpshe (acting)
Personal details
Born (1958-03-29) 29 March 1958 (age 61)
Port Elizabeth
Alma mater



Pikoli attended St John's College in Mthatha, and later obtained undergraduate degrees from the National University of Lesotho and a MA in Law from the University of Zimbabwe in 1988.

As a student he was an active member of the ANC's youth movement, and received military training in Angola.[2]

Early careerEdit

Between 1991 and 1994 he worked in the private legal profession, but became Special Advisor to the Minister of Justice in 1994. He served in that capacity until 1997, when he became Deputy Director-General (Human Resources) in the Department of Justice & Constitutional Development. In 1999 he became Director-General in the same department, a position he held for six years.

National Director of Public ProsecutionsEdit

In 2005 he was appointed to head up the National Prosecuting Authority as the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

On 24 September 2007 President Thabo Mbeki suspended Pikoli in terms of Section 12(6)(a) of the National Prosecution Act 32 of 1998, citing an "irretrievable break down in the working relationship between the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and the NDPP."[3] Three days later the South African Broadcasting Corporation claimed that a warrant was issued on 10 September by the NPA for the arrest of the head of the South African Police and Interpol, Jackie Selebi – a close confidant of Mbeki. According to SABC the warrant was secured by Pikoli, before Pikoli was suspended by the country's President Mbeki.[4][5] Journalists at the Mail & Guardian subsequently provided supporting evidence to the claim that Mbeki had suspended Pikoli as part of a bid to shield Police Commissioner Selebi.[6] The leader of South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance party, Helen Zille, said that the suspension of Pikoli was a "serious development" that needed further explanation: "The country needs to know why Pikoli has been suspended."[7] Human Sciences Research Council political commentator Adam Habib said:[8]

If the president suspended Mr Pikoli on the grounds that he had issued a warrant for the commissioner's arrest, then it suggests that an invasion is being made into an independent institution's operations. Intervening in the operations of the National Prosecuting Authority constitutes a violation of our Constitution.

After Mbeki's resignation from the presidency, his successor Kgalema Motlanthe fired Pikoli. Opposition leader Helen Zille pointed out that even though Motlanthe is a close supporter of Mbeki's political rival Jacob Zuma, Motlanthe had his own reasons for distrusting Pikoli. In particular she claimed that Pikoli's efforts to charge Zuma with corruption made him a target for Motlanthe, and that Pikoli had been both suspended and fired for political reasons.[9]

Pikoli's dismissal would have to be ratified by Parliament. The proceedings got off to a shaky start when the co-chairperson of the ad hoc parliamentary committee dealing with the matter, Oupa Monareng, was revealed to have been convicted of criminal charges in the mid 1990s.

On 11 August 2009 Pikoli was granted an interim interdict by the High Court in Pretoria, which prevents Zuma from appointing a successor to the position. This was until the application could be heard by the same court in November.[10]

On 21 November 2009 the government reached a R7.5 million out-of-court settlement with Pikoli to stop his legal bid for reinstatement.[11][12]

Subsequent careerEdit

Pikoli is currently serving as a commissioner of the Khayelitsha Commission, which is investigating the crime and policing situation in Khayelitsha and the Western Cape Police Ombudsman.


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Advocate Vusumzi "Vusi" Pikoli".
  3. ^ "Mbeki suspends NDPP's Vusi Pikoli". iol. 24 September 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
  4. ^ News24 (28 September 2007). "'Deafening' silence on Selebi". News24. Archived from the original on 3 December 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2007.
  5. ^ BBC News (27 September 2007). "SA's top policeman 'not arrested'". BBC News. Retrieved 27 September 2007.
  6. ^ "The desperate bid to shield Selebi". Mail & Guardian. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
  7. ^ Jonathan Clayton (27 September 2007). "Heads roll in bitter ANC turf war". London: The Times. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
  8. ^ "Rumours swirl over Pikoli's suspension". Mail & Guardian. 30 September 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2008.
  9. ^ "Motlanthe trying to protect Zuma – Zille".
  10. ^ Zuma says he respects Pikoli judgement M&G
  11. ^ "Government and Advocate Vusi Pikoli reach out of court settlement". South African government. 21 November 2009. Retrieved 29 November 2009.
  12. ^ Maughan, Karyn (23 November 2009). "Does R7,5m pave the way for Pikoli's new job?". The Star. p. 2. Retrieved 29 November 2009.