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.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

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

South Africa has been junked

Treasury says the credit ratings downgrade “could not have come at a worse time”, as country enters a 21-day Covid-19 lockdown with little money saved up

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

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

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories