NPA boss backed ‘thieving’ hubby

2011-01-15 21:09

The newly appointed deputy head of the National Prosecuting ­Authority (NPA) tried to save her thieving husband’s job by giving “unreliable” evidence at his disciplinary hearing.

City Press has learned that ­advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, who was appointed as one of NPA boss Menzi Simelane’s four deputies this week, is married to former Scorpions advocate Booker Nhantsi, who was convicted of stealing a client’s money while he was practising as an attorney.

Jiba’s appointment is the latest in a range of controversial appointments to the justice and security cluster by President Jacob Zuma (see story on the right).

Nhantsi was sentenced to three years in prison by the ­Mthatha Regional Court in 2005 after the court found that he had stolen R174?000 from his law firm’s trust account. He was released from prison in 2007.

Justice spokesperson Tlali Tlali said this week that Jiba’s appointment was not “a family appointment, but one where (her) wealth of experience, not that of her partner, which spans 22 years, was among other things taken into ­account”.

During Nhantsi’s disciplinary hearing at the NPA in 2005, which was chaired by former acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe, Jiba gave evidence to support her husband. Mpshe dismissed her evidence as unreliable and he ­suspended ­Nhantsi.

Senior NPA sources told City Press this week that Jiba’s “hostility” towards senior state advocate Gerrie Nel began after he, according to her, did not do enough to protect Nhantsi, who was reporting to him at the time.

Nel is the former head of the Scorpions in Gauteng and was the chief prosecutor in former police commissioner Jackie Selebi’s ­corruption case.

Tlali said: “Reference to the ­history of advocate Jiba’s partner is an irrelevant consideration to the process.

“It can never be justified why that must be used as a factor in the appointment ­process.”

In December 2007 Mpshe suspended Jiba for her alleged role in conspiring with the police to have Nel arrested in an attempt to scupper the Selebi investigation.

According to NPA sources, Jiba was trying desperately to procure a warrant for Nel’s arrest and was turned away by more than one prosecutor before she finally succeeded in having an arrest ­warrant issued in North West.

On January 8 2008 Nel was arrested Hollywood-style by armed police outside his Pretoria house and was handcuffed after returning from holiday with his family.

He spent the night in holding cells before charges were withdrawn against him the next day due to a lack of evidence.
Jiba tried unsuccessfully to stop her disciplinary hearing in April 2009 with an application to the Labour Court.

She claimed she was the “victim of a conspiracy by the management of the NPA”.

Jiba subsequently contacted justice minister Jeff Radebe to ­assist her, and late in 2009 Mpshe dropped proceedings against her.

Senior NPA staff this week ­expressed their shock at Jiba’s ­appointment, saying it would be “almost impossible for her to work in the same office as advocates she has had run-ins with over the years”.

The Mail & Guardian has ­reported that Jiba is closely linked to the police’s head of crime intelligence, Richard Mdluli, who backed her failed application to the Labour Court.

Mdluli also backed her claims of an NPA conspiracy against her.

Jiba was also named in former crime intelligence boss Mulangi Mphego’s report on Operation Lucifer – an undercover police probe into the people who were ­investigating Selebi.

In the report, Mphego claimed Jiba was a witness against Nel.

In response to her suspension by Mpshe, Mphego wrote: “How is (it) possible and in the interest of justice that witnesses to ongoing investigations... are suspended for co-operating with the state?”

Tlali said all legal disputes between Jiba and the NPA were “considered to be settled now”.

The Democratic Alliance on Friday called Jiba’s appointment “astonishing” and said the party would call for Radebe to explain it to Parliament.

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