Mokgoro: Jiba, Mrwebi unfit for office — Mokgoro

A panel chaired by retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro has recommended the removal of deputy national head of prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba and head of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU), Lawrence Mrwebi.

In a damning 342-page report, the panel found that Jiba had “allowed, and in fact enabled, the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to be compromised” in its prosecution of retired KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen for racketeering.

READ MORE: Under Jiba, trend emerged of prosecuting those that got in the way — Hofmeyr

The panel of three was appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to look into the fitness for their posts at the NPA. In a detailed report, the panel found Jiba and Mrwebi unfit on a number of grounds.

Ramaphosa has until Friday to decide whether or not to remove them. He has already given the pair an opportunity to make submissions on the report and it is understood he will make an announcement of his decision imminently. It will then be for Parliament to decide whether to restore them to office.

The racketeering charges against Booysen related to what was publicly known as the Cato Manor “death squad”, after a series of articles were run in the Sunday Times newspaper, about the alleged extra-judicial killings of 45 people by the Durban Organised Crime Unit, whose office was in Cato Manor. Last year, the Sunday Times retracted the stories and apologised for them.

The racketeering charge had been successfully challenged by Booysen in the high court, which found that the decision — taken by Jiba — to charge him for racketeering was irrational.

READ MORE: Jiba — Booysen racketeering charge was not politically motivated

Mokgoro’s panel found that Jiba had been inconsistent in her explanations for why an outside team — not from the KwaZulu-Natal office — had been parachuted in to conduct the prosecution, saying one thing to the president and another to the Mokgoro inquiry.

Jiba had told Ramaphosa that she brought in an outside team because the acting head of the KZN office, Simphiwe Mlotshwa, had “pleaded” for this. But after Mlotshwa gave evidence before Mokgoro’s panel, she said she had done this because the Independent Police Investigative Directorate had asked for it.

“The inconsistencies in the reasons she gave for establishing a national prosecuting team indicates that she acted with favour and with prejudice to the NPA,” the report says.

When it came to litigation over the decision to withdraw corruption charges against former Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli, the panel found that Jiba’s approach to the litigation was “misleading and in following that approach, she compromised her integrity and consequently cannot be entrusted with the responsibilities of the office that she holds”.

Jiba did not respect court processes, the report further states. “As a senior member of the NPA, Jiba has displayed irreverence to the courts and indifference to their processes,” the panel concluded.

In evaluating the evidence, the panel also said that Jiba’s decision to depose to an affidavit in the litigation over the “spy tapes” had a “bearing on her integrity”. The spy tapes were recordings of telephonic conversations — mostly between former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka and former Scorpions head Leonard McCarthy — which formed the basis for the NPA’s decision to drop corruption charges against former president Jacob Zuma in 2009.

The panel said Zuma’s presidential pardon of her husband Booker Nhantsi, which expunged his criminal record, could give rise to a perception of bias on her part — something she had a duty to guard against.

The report was even more scathing about Mrwebi saying he “did not act with integrity” and showed himself to “lack understanding of the law”.

The way he went about withdrawing charges against Mdluli was irrational and unlawful. The circumstances surrounding it — receiving representations from Mdluli before Mrwebi had even been officially appointed to head up the SCCU and taking the decision “without reference to his colleagues” — showed that he failed to act without favour, said the panel.

At the time of publishing, the Mail & Guardian was unable to obtain comment from Jiba and Mrwebi. This article will be updated when comment is obtained.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

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

Stella set to retain her perks

Communication minister will keep Cabinet perks during her two months of special leave

Not a sweet deal, Mister

Mister Sweet workers say they will not risk their health, and the lives of others, to continue producing and packaging confectionaries

Covid-19 grounds Nigeria’s medical tourists

The country’s elites, including the president, travelled abroad for treatment but now they must use the country’s neglected health system

Nehawu launches urgent court bid over protective gear for health...

The health workers’ union says the government has rebuffed its attempts to meet about mitigating risks to workers

Press Releases

Rahima Moosa Hospital nursing college introduces no-touch facial recognition access system

The new system allows the hospital to enrol people’s faces immediately, using artificial intelligence, and integrates easily with existing access control infrastructure, including card readers and biometrics

Everyone’s talking about it. Even Kentucky

Earlier this year South African fried chicken fast-food chain, Chicken Licken®, launched a campaign for their wallet-friendly EasyBucks® meals, based on the idea of ‘Everyone’s talking about it.’

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world