Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor who sentenced Oscar Pistorius and former top police official Jackie Selebi to jail has quit.
He has given the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) 24 hours’ notice of his resignation.
Nel resigned after 35 years of service. He is just five years away from retirement.
His stepping down will send shock waves through the beleaguered NPA, which has had four heads in the past decade.
Nel led the Scorpions’ Operation Bad Guys investigation into Selebi and the late mining magnate Brett Kebble. He received an international prosecutors’ award for his successful prosecution of Selebi, who also headed Interpol, on charges of corruption.
Nel was the chief prosecutor in the State’s murder case against former Paralympic champion Pistorius. In 2015 the Supreme Court of Appeal changed Pistorius’s culpable homicide conviction to murder.
In 2008 Nel was arrested on trumped-up fraud charges while pursuing Selebi. It later emerged that suspended deputy NPA head, Nomgcobo Jiba, was instrumental in securing an arrest warrant against Nel.
In 2011 City Press reported that Jiba’s hostility against Nel was caused by his involvement in a fraud case against her husband, Booker Nhantsi.
Nhantsi, a former lawyer and Scorpions investigator, was jailed for stealing money from his law firm’s trust account. President Jacob Zuma later removed Nhantsi’s criminal record.
Nicknamed the “bulldog” prosecutor, Nel is a former provincial wrestler who teaches the sport to schoolchildren.