Nomgcobo Jiba loses her case for reinstatement in the High Court



Nomgcobo Jiba has lost her application to be reinstated as deputy national prosecutions head, putting her fate in the hands of Parliament.

The embattled former deputy national director of public prosecutions was fired by President Cyril Ramphosa in April. His decision followed an inquiry, chaired by retired Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mokgoro, that found that she was unfit for her post at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

In the years leading up to the inquiry, Jiba had been roundly criticised in a number of court judgments in politically sensitive cases, with allegations swirling that she was a key figure in the “capture” of the NPA.

Under the NPA Act, Parliament may still reverse Ramaphosa’s decision to fire Jiba.

There is also Part B of her court case, still to come, in which she seeks to permanently set aside her removal, challenging the constitutionality of the NPA Act and to set aside the Mokgoro inquiry.

But in a judgment handed down on Friday, the Western Cape high court rejected Part A of Jiba’s case — where she argued that she cannot be removed until Parliament has spoken. She had asked the court to reinstate her with her full salary and benefits while the process in Parliament unfolds.

Judge Robert Henney said Jiba’s argument on the interpretation of the section of the NPA Act that governed her removal was wrong. “The wording in my view is clear,” said the judge.

He said it was clear from the wording, “and the manner in which the entire section has been constructed”, that the Act envisages two separate procedures – one by the president and one by Parliament.

“This section does not give the power to suspend or remove to any other institution other than the president. The President is charged with the exclusive power to suspend or remove the NDPP [national director of public prosecutions] or DNDPP [deputy national director].”

The Act did not say the removal was conditional upon the approval of Parliament, he said. It was only after the removal, that Parliament’s role kicked in, he said. “The wording is clear, Parliament’s function is not to remove but to restore,” he held.

Henney was careful to steer clear of any pronouncements on Part B of the case but he Jiba had not made out a case that the president and the NPA had acted unconstitutionally in removing her prior to the parliamentary process. To reinstate her, when she had failed to show she had a clear right to reinstatement, would be to breach the separation of powers – as “it is only Parliament that can reinstate or restore her”.

Subscribe to the M&G

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.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

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

Related stories

Durban city manager says NPA erred in his bail conditions

The corruption-fraught metro is coming to grips with having a municipal manager who is on bail for graft, yet has returned to work

Tax, wage bill, debt, pandemic: Mboweni’s tightrope budget policy statement

The finance minister has to close the jaws of the hippo and he’s likely to do this by tightening the country’s belt, again.

Johannesburg cannot police its future

South Africa’s biggest city is ground zero for debates about the long-term effectiveness and constitutionality of militarised urban policing and how we imagine the post-Covid city

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Hawks swoop down with more arrests in R1.4-billion corruption blitz

The spate of arrests for corruption continues apace in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.

Fix economy: Cut, build, tax

Expert panel presents a range of solutions to the economic crisis that include cost cutting, infrastructure spending and a solidarity levy

Subscribers only

The shame of 40 000 missing education certificates

Graduates are being left in the lurch by a higher education department that is simply unable to deliver the crucial certificates proving their qualifications - in some cases dating back to 1992

The living nightmare of environmental activists who protest mine expansion

Last week Fikile Ntshangase was gunned down as activists fight mining company Tendele’s expansions. Community members tell the M&G about the ‘kill lists’ and the dread they live with every day

More top stories

Fifteen witnesses for vice-chancellor probe

Sefako Makgatho University vice-chancellor Professor Peter Mbati had interdicted parliament last month from continuing with the inquiry

Constitutional Court ruling on restructuring dispute is good for employers

A judgment from the apex court empowers employers to change their workers’ contracts — without consultation

Audi Q8: Perfectly cool

The Audi Q8 is designed to be the king in the elite SUV class. But is it a victim of its own success?

KZN officials cash in on ‘danger pay for Covid-19’

Leadership failures at Umdoni local municipality in KwaZulu-Natal have caused a ‘very unhappy’ ANC PEC to fire the mayor and chief whip

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday