Jiba had 'flouted every rule'

2016-09-16 09:35
Suspended KZN Hawks boss General Johan Booysen.

Suspended KZN Hawks boss General Johan Booysen. (File)

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Durban - Suspended KZN Hawks boss General Johan Booysen says judges who on Thursday ordered two of the country’s top prosecutors struck off the roll of advocates have confirmed what he wrote in his recently released book.

He was reacting to the judgment by North Gauteng judges Francis Legodi and Wendy Hughes, who found that deputy national director of public prosecutions Nomcoba Jiba and advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, head of the special commercial crimes unit, were not fit and proper people to be advocates.

The reason for the judges’ decision was based on the advocates’ failure to prosecute the head of police crime intelligence, Richard Mdluli, for fraud and corruption.

Although the strike-off application brought by the General Bar Council of SA was also motivated by various “adverse” judges’ comments about particularly Jiba in connection with her decision to prosecute Booysen on racketeering, murder and other charges, and the withdrawal of criminal charges in the so-called “Spy Tapes” case, these were not the basis for the court’s decision to strike Jiba and Mrwebi off the roll of advocates. It was the pair’s behaviour in relation to the Mdluli case that drew the most scathing criticisms.

The judges said Jiba had “flouted every rule in the fight against crime” by failing to prosecute Mdluli.

Book

Booysen, who is currently still involved in litigation against the NPA, said on Thursday he preferred not to comment about Jiba’s striking off. However, he said the judgment confirms comments he made in his book, Blood on their Hands, about the Mdluli matter.

In Thursday’s judgment, Judge Legodi said, “I cannot believe that two officers of the court [advocates Jiba and Mrwebi] who hold such high positions in the prosecuting authority will stoop so low for the protection and defence of one individual who had been implicated in serious offences.”

The judges said by failing to prosecute Mdluli — who had “inappropriately suggested that he was capable of assisting the president of the country to win the party presidential election in Mangaung during 2011 should the charges be dropped against him” — Jiba and Mrwebi had brought the NPA, the legal profession and the “good office of the president of the RSA” into disrepute.

“It is this kind of behaviour that diminishes the image of our country and its institutions, which are meant to be impartial, independent and transparent in the exercise of their legislative powers,” said Judge Legodi.

The judgment likened the actions of prosecuting officials (including ex-prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach) to “foot soldiers in a warzoned area crying for freedom and space to declare war and to fight against serious crimes that are crippling our country and threatening investment”.

Jiba on the other hand was “like a commander-in-chief” and required to lead by example. Instead, she “flouted every rule in the fight against crime”.

“Her failure to intervene when she was required to do so has failed the citizens of this country, and in the process brought the image of the legal profession and the prosecuting authority into disrepute,” said Legodi, adding that both Jiba and Mrwebi ceased to be fit and proper to remain on the roll of advocates.

Political parties across the spectrum called for Jiba to be immediately fired after she was struck off.

Jiba to apply for leave to appeal

However, Jiba’s attorney Zola Majavu told The Witness that she will definitely apply for leave to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal, and he believes she will remain in her post pending the application.

“She has 14 days to apply for leave to appeal, but we are going to expedite this and expect to lodge our application in a few days,” said Majavu.

“We must still read the judgment carefully and the grounds for the application must be stated clearly. It is not something we can rush,” he said.

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku would not be drawn on whether Jiba or Mrwebi would keep their posts pending possible appeals.

He said NDPP Shaun Abrahams would consider the legal position when he has studied the judgment.

A representative of A.M. Vilakazi Tau Attorneys, representing Mrwebi, said they had not yet consulted with him to decide if they would apply for leave to appeal. “We are still studying the judgment and will meet with our client before deciding,” he said.

The DA shadow minister of justice, Glynnis Breytenbach, called on President Jacob Zuma to “fire Jiba without delay”.

The African Christian Democratic Party’s Steve Swart also said Zuma should “act swiftly” and immediately fire Jiba and Mwrebi, or at least suspend them.

The Congress of the People (Cope) called on Zuma “not to defend Jiba one day longer”, and said she must be fired. “Time is up for Jiba. There is no place to hide,” the organisation said.

Read more on:    npa  |  hawks  |  johan booysen  |  nomgcobo ­jiba  |  lawrence mrwebi  |  pietermaritzburg  |  judiciary

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