Gloves off in NPA as Nxasana guns for Jiba

2014-07-13 15:00

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The dawn raid on a close confidante of former acting prosecutions head Nomgcobo Jiba is part of a desperate, last-ditch fight for the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

City Press has learnt it was the home of Jackie Lepinka, Nomgcobo Jiba’s former personal assistant, that was raided by Hawks officers who had hoped to find a “large volume” of documents that had been removed from the NPA offices.

A source close to the investigation told City Press the raid was based on the affidavit of a messenger – who declared under oath he was given sealed packets of documents with instructions to deliver them to Lepinka’s home.

On Friday, the Mail?& Guardian reported the Hawks’ raid was a “panicky” attempt by Mxolisi Nxasana to obtain copies of the “spy tapes” – telephone interceptions that got President Jacob Zuma off the hook on corruption charges – before an inquiry into his fitness to hold office begins.

The newspaper reported that nothing was seized from Lepinka’s home.

But three senior NPA sources expressed doubt that the Hawks were searching for transcriptions of the spy tapes, saying instead the raid was part of a legitimate corruption investigation.

“If you wanted to get the spy tapes, it would be pretty easy, because everyone knows who has them,” said one.

Although NPA employees were tight-lipped about the identity of the complainant in the case, City Press learnt the investigation into the missing documents originated from inside the NPA.

Another senior NPA official said there was a renewed urgency among a small group of top prosecutors to try and wrest control of the organisation from politically connected and powerful individuals within it.

This comes at a time when the NPA is being torn apart by internal strife and morale is at an all-time low.

In opposing corners are Jiba and current national director of public prosecutions Nxasana, who blames Jiba and her allies for running a dirty tricks campaign against him.

Both Lepinka and Jiba fell foul of Nxasana just two months after his appointment last August.

Without mentioning names, Nxasana told an executive committee meeting he was aware of those who were involved in attempts to dig up dirt on him. Shortly thereafter, Lepinka was asked to leave Nxasana’s office and join the general secretarial pool.

Jiba apparently requested special leave.

The Sunday Independent reported at the time the Public Servants Association complained to the NPA on Lepinka’s behalf, saying the term of a personal assistant was not linked to that of her boss.

At the centre of the feud is the case of suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

It has been alleged that the inquiry the presidency announced last week into Nxasana’s fitness to hold office was instituted after he indicated he was willing to allow the reinstatement of two separate sets of criminal charges against Mdluli.

This follows the Supreme Court of Appeal’s overturning the NPA’s decisions to drop charges against him.

But City Press has learnt Mdluli’s prosecution appears to have stalled again.

Hawks investigating officer Kobus Roelofse was abruptly sent back to the Western Cape recently, after spending months working on the Mdluli charge sheet in Joburg.

The Mail & Guardian reported that Moipone Noko, the KwaZulu-Natal prosecutions head, was tipped to act in Nxasana’s place when he faces the inquiry.

But Noko told City Press she had not been asked to stand in.

“I have not been approached. I only know what I read in the Mail & Guardian,” she said.

NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube declined to comment on the investigation and raid on Lepinka’s home, but said Nxasana had not yet been suspended and was attending the budget vote in Parliament next week.

Jiba did not respond to a request for comment and Lepinka could not be reached. – Additional reporting by Paddy Harper

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