Markus Jooste must stand trial in South Africa first – Glynnis Breytenbach

DA MP Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach said Markus Jooste should be tried in South Africa before he stands trial in Germany.

Breytenbach’s comment comes after a German court issued an arrest warrant for Jooste, the former CEO of scandal-ridden retailer Steinhoff International Holdings.

Prosecutors had asked for the order in April when Jooste did not show up for his trial in Germany.

Jooste’s attorney, Bernd Gross, said the ruling is totally incomprehensible, and he will challenge it.

Gross told the court in April that Jooste could not travel to Germany for his trial because he didn’t have access to his passport under an arrangement with South African authorities.

However, this has since been proven untrue, as South African officials cannot hold someone’s passport unless they are under arrest.

Breytenbach said this lie is something Jooste has to answer to the Germans. However, she believes South Africa should not extradite Jooste to Germany yet.

“During engagements with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), it’s become clear that they have put quite a lot of effort into this matter. They have worked quite hard to put the case together,” she said.

Glynnis Breytenbach
DA MP Advocate Glynnis Breytenbach

She said that while the Germans have now issued an arrest warrant for Jooste and they’re ready to start their criminal procedure against him, South Africa has jurisdiction.

She added that it is a lot more challenging for the NPA to gather evidence than it is for German prosecutors. This is because the transactions the NPA needs to prove the case against Jooste were made in Germany.

Therefore, to gather all their evidence, the NPA has to make many requests for mutual legal assistance to obtain all the documentation and evidence needed to prosecute.

Though Jooste’s allegedly fraudulent transactions were made in Germany, the effects of his actions were felt in South Africa. The NPA should, therefore, also prosecute Jooste.

“Once he’s been convicted and sentenced, we can consider sending him to Germany to go and stand trial there,” she said.

In addition, Breytenbach said Germany does not extradite German citizens to other countries to stand trial in criminal matters, “so there will be no reciprocity”.

“If I was the prosecutor, I would certainly hang on to him,” she said. “The German arrest warrant is also good for us because it simply means that it will make it exceptionally difficult for him to travel anywhere, and so he’s kind of stuck in South Africa now.”


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