Embattled deputy national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba told the Mokgoro inquiry that she felt betrayed by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) when she was prosecuted for fraud and perjury in relation to her decision to authorise a prosecution for racketeering against retired KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen.
Jiba was giving evidence at the inquiry, chaired by retired judge Yvonne Mokgoro, into her fitness for her post as deputy prosecutions boss, after she was rebuked by several judges in high-profile and politically sensitive cases.
The inquiry is also looking into the fitness for office of Lawrence Mrwebi, head of the NPA’s Specialised Commercial Crime Unit.
Jiba was criticised for her handling of the Booysen case. Booysen successfully went to the high court to set aside his racketeering charge.
The charges related to the so-called “Cato Manor death squad” after the now-
discredited exposé by the Sunday Times of alleged “extrajudicial killings” of 28 people by the Durban organised crime unit, whose office was in Cato Manor.
Booysen has testified before Mokgoro and repeated what he argued before Judge Trevor Gorven in a KwaZulu-Natal high court in 2014: when Jiba authorised charges against him, not one of the statements she said she had relied on to do so linked him to the crime — or to any crime. Gorven agreed and was critical that Jiba did not respond to allegations of mendacity.
At the height of bitter factional infighting at the NPA, when Mxolisi Nxasana was national director, Jiba was then prosecuted for fraud and perjury related to the Booysen case.
Jiba, who for the first time gave oral evidence on the allegations against her on Thursday, said: “I have never felt so betrayed by my own institution in my entire life … I was paraded before a court as a criminal, merely for exercising a discretion.”
The prosecutor assigned to her case, Jan Ferreira, a senior prosecutor in the Pretoria office of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit, testified that he had also looked at the documents on which Jiba said she had based her decision. In his view, perjury and fraud charges were warranted. “I would dare you to read those four statements and say how Booysen is implicated,” he said under cross-examination.
But Jiba said there was nothing unlawful about her decision in the Booysen matter. There was information in the docket that people were killed in circumstances where they posed no danger, “some of them in front of their own wives”.
She asked for guidance from the panel as to whether she should show photos of some of the killings, saying they were gruesome and she had not obtained permission from the families. The panel ruled that it was not necessary to show the photos.
Jiba said, although the policemen claimed self-defence, there was no evidence of injury on the police officers to show self-defence and added that, in any event, that was for a court to decide, not the prosecutors.
She said she was particularly moved by the fact that one of those killed by the police had obtained an interdict from the high court against the police.
Granted in November, she said the order said: “You are prohibited from killing the applicant.” By February he had been killed, she said. The deponent to the answering affidavit in the interdict application was Booysen.
At the time of writing, Jiba was still testifying.