Ethics: NPA three charged

2014-08-09 00:00

THE National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has charged three of its most senior prosecutors with unethical behaviour.

Advocates Nomgcobo Jiba, Lawrence Mrwebi and Sibongile Mzinyathi were charged at the Pretoria Bar Council over their actions in the prosecution of suspended Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

This is the latest salvo in the NPA power struggle that threatens the careers of senior prosecutors.

Jiba is the deputy national director of public prosecutions (DPP) and has headed the NPA in an acting capacity previously.

Mrwebi is the head of the commercial crime division, and Mzinyathi the DPP in Pretoria.

If the Bar finds they acted unethically an application could be brought in the high court to strike them from the roll of advocates.

The move comes after the NPA obtained a legal opinion on the actions of the three, which were criticised by the Supreme Court of Appeal in April.

That court confirmed a ruling by Judge John Murphy in the North Gauteng High Court that charges of murder and corruption should be reinstated against Mdluli after they were withdrawn by the NPA.

Jiba, Mrwebi and Mzinyathi were all involved in that decision.

The NPA has meanwhile decided to charge Mdluli with abduction and intimidation.

A dossier alleging fraud and corruption, to do with money that disappeared from a secret fund at crime intelligence, is being reviewed by the NPA with an eye to prosecution.

In his legal opinion, advocate Pat Ellis SC advised current NPA head Mxolisi Nxasana that all three should be suspended pending investigations of their fitness for office, criminally charged with perjury and reported to the Bar Council.

Chairperson of the Bar, advocate Bertus Bergenthuin SC, confirmed to sister paper Beeld that the NPA has filed charges against all three.

“We have received the charges. The issue will probably be referred to an ad hoc committee for investigation by the next meeting of the Bar.”

Only Mzinyathi is a member of the Pretoria Bar.

“All the Bar can do, if it decides to do anything, is to bring an application for their removal from the roll,” said Bergenthuin.

Mrwebi personally withdrew corruption charges against Mdluli, against the advice of advocate Glynnis Breytenbach, who was the prosecutor in the case.

Mzinyathi supported the decision.

• Nxasana was recently informed by President Jacob Zuma that he is to be suspended, in connection with previous convictions of which Zuma was not aware when he appointed him.

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