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Former NPA boss Nxasana heads to Zondo commission

The commission of inquiry into state capture continues on Wednesday, with the former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Mxolisi Nxasana set to give evidence.

It is expected that Nxasana will recount the events leading up to his acceptance of a multi-million rand golden handshake from former president Jacob Zuma.

The commission — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — has previously heard evidence relating to alleged political interference at the NPA. But, for the most part, this evidence has come from witnesses outside the institution.

Nxasana left his position as national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) in May 2015, less than two years after his appointment. Nxasana’s exit followed an internal battle with the senior leadership of the NPA, which saw Zuma take a decision in 2014 to institute a commission of inquiry into the then NDPP’s fitness to hold office.

Nxasana was suspended pending the outcome of the inquiry, which was formally established in February 2015. However, before the inquiry got underway, Zuma and Nxasana reached a R17.3-million settlement and the latter vacated his position as prosecutions boss.

READ MORE: Who’s lying? Nxasana vs Zuma

Zuma appointed Shaun Abrahams as Nxasana’s replacement in June 2015. But in August last year, the Constitutional Court declared the terms in which Nxasana left office — and thus Abraham’s appointment — constitutionally invalid.

Shamila Batohi was appointed to take over from Abrahams in December last year.

At the height of the infighting at the NPA, Nxasana appealed to Zuma to suspend his then deputy, Nomgcobo Jiba. Nxasana later charged Jiba with fraud and perjury in relation to her decision to authorise a prosecution for racketeering against retired KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen.

Shortly after Abrahams’s appointment, he ordered the case against Jiba to be re-evaluated.

Jiba, who was removed as deputy prosecutions head by President Cyril Ramaphosa in April, has been at the centre of a number of allegations against the NPA ventilated at the Zondo commission. Jiba was removed following the conclusion of the Mokgoro inquiry into her and head of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit Lawrence Mrwebi’s fitness to hold office.

In a damning 342-page report, a panel chaired by retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro panel found that Jiba had “allowed, and in fact enabled, the independence of the NPA to be compromised” in its prosecution of retired KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen for racketeering.

Booysen appeared before the Zondo commission in May. He alleged that the NPA was captured by a group of prosecutors, who acted at Jiba’s behest to go after the likes of former Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride, South African Revenue Service (Sars) officials Ivan Pillay and Johann van Loggerenberg and former Hawks bosses Anwa Dramat and Shadrack Sibiya.

Jiba was also implicated in the evidence of former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi.

Agrizzi told the commission in January that Jiba and Mrwebi were being paid by Bosasa, through former prisons commissioner Linda Mti, in exchange for their cooperation in stymieing the mounting case against the firm.

According to Agrizzi, Jiba, codename “Snake”, was being paid R100 000 a month from about 2009. Mrwebi, codename “Snail”, was allegedly being paid R10 000 a month. NPA secretary Jackie Lepinka, who worked with Jiba, was allegedly paid R20 000 a month.

Both Jiba and Mrwebi expressly denied this allegation when they appeared before the Mokgoro inquiry. Lepinka was suspended by Batohi in February.

Ramaphosa announced during his State of the Nation address in February that a new investigative directorate within the NPA would be established following a request from Batohi.

The directorate has been tasked with investigating allegations made at the Zondo commission, the commission of inquiry into governance at Sars, as well as the Public Investment Corporation inquiry.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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