Jiba calls on Mokgoro inquiry to protect the NPA’s independence

Nomgcobo Jiba, the embattled deputy head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), has appealed to the Mokgoro inquiry to bolster the prosecutorial independence of the authority, whatever the decision was about her future there may be.

Jiba was closing her testimony at the inquiry into whether she is fit to hold office — chaired by former Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro. The commission is also looking into whether Lawrence Mrwebi, the national head of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit, is fit for office. This comes after the pair was roundly rebuked by several judges in some highly politicised litigation.

Jiba’s testimony on Thursday was the first time she has, in person, told her side of the story after years of criticism and allegations her decisions were motivated by political considerations.

In a statement at the beginning of her evidence, Jiba said she was breaking years of silence before the inquiry to be “finally judged by persons whose integrity and sense of fairness I trust completely.”

Jiba told the commission she was dismayed by some of the evidence the inquiry has heard — in particular the testimony of former Pretoria head of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit Glynnis Breytenbach and her fellow deputy national director, Willie Hofmeyr.

She said their evidence, which called into question her rapid rise to the post of deputy national director and then to acting national director, “revealed a deep resentment that a young black African woman had been promoted to this leadership position”.

Jiba testified about some of the allegations against her including her authorisation of racketeering charges against retired KwaZulu-Natal head of Hawks Johan Booysen, which was criticised by the KwaZulu-Natal high court. The racketeering charges related to what was publicly known as the “Cato Manor death squad”. A now discredited exposé by the Sunday Times newspaper alleged that the Durban organised crime unit, whose office was in Cato Manor, had carried out the “extra-judicial killings” of 28 people.

Booysen told the inquiry that the documents upon which her decision to authorise the charges was based did not disclose any crime on his part, let alone racketeering. But Jiba said there was nothing unlawful about her authorisation of the charges, adding that killings by police officers had been gruesome. Though the police had claimed self-defence, there was no sign of a struggle on their part and this was something for the court to decide in any event, she said.

Jiba further addressed claims she and Mrwebi had protected former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli from prosecution. She said she knew Mdluli but in the same way that she knew many police officers.

She added that she had not ignored a plea by Breytenbach and fellow prosecutor Jan Ferreira to review Mrwebi’s decision to withdraw corruption charges against Mdluli. She had asked Mrwebi for an explanation and he had told her there was no evidence at the time in the docket that linked Mdluli to the crime. “And the understanding was that the case would be enrolled in the future,” Jiba explained.

“We withdraw cases all the time when we are not satisfied that the evidence is sufficient; and to me there was nothing untoward with this explanation,” she said.

At the end of her evidence-in-chief, she appealed to the panel that, whatever it decided about her fate, it should protect the independence of prosecutorial decision-making. She said if prosecutors thought that they would be subjected to a process — disciplinary or otherwise — when they were exercising their prosecutorial discretion it induced “a sense of fear”.

“Prosecutors would not survive if, when they have to make these decisions, they have to watch their backs,” she said.

Jiba’s cross-examination is scheduled to begin on Friday. 

Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
News Editor, Mail & Guardian. Editor, Advocate. Former legal reporter at Business Day. Still obsessed with law and politics
Advertisting

‘Judge President Hlophe tried to influence allocation of judges to...

Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath accuses Hlophe of attempting to influence her to allocate the case to judges he perceived as ‘favourably disposed’ to former president Jacob Zuma

SAA grounds flights due to low demand

SAA is working to accommodate customers on its sister airlines after it cancelled flights due to low demand

Isabel dos Santos did not loot Angola alone

Once again, Western auditing and consulting firms shamelessly facilitated corruption on an international scale

Lekwa municipality won’t answer questions about why children died in...

Three children are dead. More than a dozen homes have been gutted by fires in the past six months. And, as...
Advertising

Press Releases

Upskill yourself to land your dream job in 2020

If you received admission to an IIE Higher Certificate qualification, once you have graduated, you can articulate to an IIE Diploma and then IIE Bachelor's degree at IIE Rosebank College.

South Africans unsure of what to expect in 2020

Almost half (49%) of South Africans, 15 years and older, agree or strongly agree that they view 2020 with optimism.

KZN teacher educators jet off to Columbia University

A group of academics were selected as participants of the programme focused on PhD completion, mobility, supervision capacity development and the generation of high-impact research.

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.