NPA deep in crisis yet again

2014-05-31 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) cannot afford to be thrown into disarray again, new Justice Minister Mike Masutha said yesterday.

His predecessor, Jeff Radebe, had asked NPA head Mxolisi Nxasana to resign.

“If instability occurs, it must be handled immediately and solutions must be found to restore stability,” Masutha told sister paper Beeld yesterday.

Nxasana was appointed last year as the sixth head in a decade of the NPA, which has become seriously politicised.

If he does resign, the NPA will be left leaderless yet again.

Radebe made the call last week when Nxasana failed to obtain a security clearance after neglecting to reveal that he had been charged with and acquitted of murder as an 18-year-old in 1986, the Mail & Guardian reported.

As the newly appointed minister, it is left to Masutha to decide how best to handle the crisis without undermining the NPA.

He said Nxasana should have revealed the case to the NPA, even though he was acquitted on the grounds of self-defence.

Masutha is considering asking the president to suspend Nxasana and appoint a commission of inquiry to consider his fitness for office.

The minister said he would discuss the matter with Jacob Zuma on Monday, the first day he is available.

It was widely speculated yesterday that Nomgcobo Jiba, one of Nxasana’s deputies and a former acting head of the NPA, is conducting a campaign to get rid of him.

It is well known that Jiba was bitterly disappointed when Zuma did not appoint her permanently.

She is close to Radebe, who was instrumental in her restoration to the NPA after she was earlier suspended.

During her suspension hearing, the suspended crime intelligence head, Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, came to her defence by submitting a sworn affidavit in which he quoted from secret surveillance tapes. Jiba had been accused of protecting Mdluli from prosecution.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that corruption charges against Mdluli should be reinstated, an issue that Nxasana must now consider.

“It’s clear that Radebe is trying for the last time to do Jiba a favour [by asking Nxasana to resign]. He wants her to become the head of the NPA,” a senior NPA official said yesterday.

This official alleged that Jiba has been smearing Nxasana since his appointment by spreading lies about him, including to politicians.

She apparently claimed that Nxasana wanted to reinstate the prosecutions of Zuma and Mdluli.

Masutha said if it is true that political agendas are at play, he will intervene.

“It is a very serious issue. We will have to deal with the issue and follow a process to restore harmony so the NPA can do its work effectively.”

THEY go back a long way: President Jacob Zuma and advocate Nomgcobo Jiba are connected by the president’s decision in September 2010 to oppose criminal prosecution of her husband, Booker Nhantsi. Nhantsi is a former lawyer who stole money from his clients’ trust funds.

At the time, Zuma said that he believed Nhantsi could still make a positive contribution to society.

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