The prosecution of former Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli was not ready for trial, counsel for Lawrence Mrwebi suggested at the Mokgoro inquiry on Friday.
The inquiry — chaired by former Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro — was established by President Cyril Ramaphosa to look into whether deputy national prosecutions head Nomgcobo Jiba and Mrwebi are fit for office, after the two had been roundly criticised in a number of court judgments in high profile and politically sensitive court cases — some related to the decision to withdraw the prosecution of Mdluli.
Mrwebi’s counsel, Ally Ramawele SC, was cross-examining senior prosecutor Jan Ferreira of the specialised commercial crime unit. Ferreira was the person originally assigned to prosecute Mdluli for fraud and corruption. On Thursday, he told the inquiry there was a strong prima facie case against Mdluli, saying he believed they had all the evidence they needed to secure a conviction. The reasons for dropping charges “made no sense”, he added.
Ramawele disagreed, however, asking Ferreira about a document that was yet to be obtained from crime intelligence for the prosecution and that needed to be declassified. Ferreira responded that his view was different — that it was ready — and that he, the other prosecutor in the case, his supervisor Glynnis Breytenbach, and the deputy director of public prosecutions Sibongile Mzinyathi had all agreed that the matter should proceed.
He added that, in any event, if there was investigation outstanding, then the prosecutor should postpone for further investigation and not withdraw the case.
Ramawele suggested that this was something reasonable prosecutors could disagree about — some may feel it would be better to withdraw. Ramawele also suggested that the prosecution had not been discontinued, and had only been provisionally withdrawn.
He referred to a document about a meeting between Mrwebi, Breytenbach and Mzinyathi, which recorded their agreement to only provisionally withdraw the case and investigate further. Ferreira said he was not at the meeting, but he was not told that further investigations were needed. In any event in later correspondence with Mrwebi, he had said that it would not be in the interests of justice for the NPA to deal with the allegations against Mdluli.
“In our view it was a final decision,” he said.