Jiba’s evidence under scrutiny

Nomgcobo Jiba said one thing to President Cyril Ramaphosa in August 2018 about the prosecution of former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen. She said something very different to the Mokgoro inquiry, according to documents referred to in the written submissions of the inquiry’s evidence leaders, filed on Thursday.

The inquiry — chaired by retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro — was established to look into whether Jiba, the embattled national deputy director of public prosecutions, and suspended head of the specialised commercial crime unit Lawrence Mrwebi are fit for office, after the two were criticised in a number of court judgments.

One of these — relating to Jiba only — was a judgment in which the KwaZulu-Natal high court set aside her authorisation of racketeering charges against Booysen.

During its public hearings, Booysen told the inquiry he believed the charges were politically motivated. The inquiry also heard evidence from Simphiwe Mlotshwa, who had been acting director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal at the time. Mlotshwa told the inquiry how a different prosecution team —not made up of prosecutors from KwaZulu-Natal, who would ordinarily have handled the Booysen matter — was parachuted in to take over on the instruction of Jiba.

Mlotshwa was categorical that he had never asked for this outside team and produced an email chain to show this.

“It was clearly apparent that he would have had no need to seek Jiba’s assistance and had not done so,” said the evidence leaders.

When Jiba testified, she said the reason for the new team was not a request by Mlotshwa, but because the Independent Police Investigative Directorate had raised a concern that the prosecutors and police in the province knew each other.

But this apparently contradicted what she told Ramaphosa when she was asked to respond to his intention to hold an inquiry.

“The reason why a national prosecution team was established is because then KZN acting director of public prosecutions pleaded that the suspects are known and have worked closely with members of the sub-unit,” she said in signed written submissions to the president, said the evidence leaders.

The submission to Ramaphosa forms part of evidence before the commission, but this discrepancy was not directly put to Jiba during her cross-examination.

Jiba’s attorney, Zola Majavu, said on Thursday that he was finalising his team’s response to the evidence leaders. “The issues raised by the evidence leaders are not new and will be dealt with.”

Two further affidavits were referred to in the evidence leaders’ arguments — both supporting the idea that the Booysen matter was not treated like any other prosecution.

One was by Elijah Mamabolo, who was in the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) special projects division and, in the normal course, dealt with applications for authorisations of racketeering charges. Every racketeering charge must, in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, be authorised by the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP).

The evidence leaders said: “In the normal course, racketeering applications were referred to him [Mamabolo] before being presented or tabled before the NDPP or acting NDPP.”

Referring to Mamabolo’s affidavit, the evidence leaders said: “The Booysen matter, the Savoy matter and the John Block matters were all handled with ‘utmost confidentiality or secrecy’ by [the NPA’s Anthony] Mosing and Jiba, and were held in a highly fortified safe under lock and key … Everything was shrouded ‘in puzzling confidentiality or secrecy’.”

The Savoy matter related to bribery allegations of government and ANC officials in KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape. John Block was the chairperson of the ANC in the Northern Cape, who is serving time for corruption.

The evidence leaders also referred to an affidavit from Colonel Brian Padayachee, the head of crime intelligence in Durban, who corroborated Booysen’s view that the racketeering prosecution was politically motivated because he had been investigating allegations of corruption between Durban businessman Thoshan Panday, former president Jacob Zuma’s son Edward Zuma and the police.

“Padayachee confirms that during the course of an investigation into World Cup corruption, large-scale corruption was uncovered involving inter alia senior SAPS [South African Police Service] officials and influential and prominent government officials or individuals. This evidence is being placed before the state capture commission,” said the evidence leaders.

Edward Zuma is one of the individuals implicated, they said.

Padayachee confirmed that Booysen’s life was in danger.

In an intercepted call between Panday and Booysen’s junior in the Hawks, Colonel Rajen Aiyer, Panday said to Aiyer: “The only way you can help me is to take Booysen out,” said the evidence leaders.

An affidavit from Aiyer is one of the documents on which Jiba said she relied when she authorised the racketeering prosecution.

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Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
Franny is the legal reporter at the Mail & Guardian

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