The dignity of the state capture commission has been held up by Zondo's personal approach. Even the most reluctant witness could not gather the rudeness to withdraw.
Nomgcobo Jiba (Foto: Theana Breugem)
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Cyril Ramaphosa has decided to suspend senior Deputy National Director of
Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba and Special Director of Public Prosecutions Lawrence
He has also
announced his decision to institute enquiries into their fitness to hold
office. Earlier this year, Ramaphosa had invited both Jiba and Mrwebi to give
him reasons why they should not be suspended pending the enquiry.
In letters to Advocates Jiba and Mrwebi, Ramaphosa said: "I have taken into account the serious nature of
allegations that you are unfit to be in so high an office, where the work of
our criminal justice system is central to the critical and pressing matter of
all prosecutions, especially prosecution of corruption cases and safeguard of
our public purse. You hold a senior position with influence over a large swathe
of the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority]. It is in the interest of the NPA's
image as a whole that I consider here, and of the integrity of an enquiry that
must result in the clearest and most convincing conclusions about the integrity,
and sound leadership of the NPA."
these suspensions important?
The NPA has been badly scarred
by years of political infighting and factionalism and Jiba and Mrwebi have been
central characters in this drama. They are seen as being part of a grouping
that had been in favour of President Jacob Zuma and were working to protect
influential individuals, particularly former head of Crime Intelligence Richard
Ex-prosecutor and current DA shadow minister
of justice Glynnis Breytenbach accused them of forcing her out of the NPA and
suspending her after she persisted with the fraud and corruption prosecution of
Civic rights organisation Freedom Under Law
went to court last year and won an order, compelling the president to institute
inquiries against both Jiba and Mrwebi. This was after several court rulings
had made damning findings against them – that they had lied, brought the legal
profession into disrepute and that they were not fit nor proper to do their
In the Mdluli matter, the Supreme Court of
Appeal (SCA) found that Jiba and Mrwebi were wrong to overrule Breytenbach and
withdraw the charges against the top cop. The SCA also criticised Jiba for
failing to hand over the infamous "spy tapes" to the DA, when the
party wanted them to challenge the decision to withdraw charges against Zuma.
Perhaps the most critical ruling was by the KwaZulu-Natal
High Court in Durban, which found that Jiba had made a decision to prosecute ex-Hawks
boss Johan Booysen based on a signed document that did not yet exist. She
briefly faced perjury charges in relation to this.
The announcement that they are being suspended
brings some semblance of finality to a process that has been dragging on for
far too long. The NPA and its leadership have been in limbo as the president
considered the representations around whether or not to suspend them. It was
unclear why it was taking him so long to act, but now he finally has.
finally a clean-up of the NPA?
Ramaphosa has been under pressure to restore
the credibility and integrity of the NPA. There's little doubt that public
perception of the organisation is that its leadership was largely captured over
the Zuma years and that it was eviscerated over time, with many good, competent
prosecutors leaving the organisation.
There have also been significant questions
around high-level corruption and commercial crime prosecutions and whether the
NPA has the capacity to successfully deal with these cases involving state capture.
Ramaphosa clearly states in his letter to Jiba
and Mrwebi that he is concerned about the integrity and image of the
organisation. The president needs to be seen to be getting rid of the "cabal"
who are aligned to Zuma and have compromised the credibility of the NPA.
The removal of former NPA boss Shaun Abrahams,
who earned the moniker of "Shaun the Sheep" from a dissatisfied and
disillusioned public, was the first step in doing this. The Constitutional
Court found that his appointment was invalid. Crucially, the president did not
oppose the legal action brought by former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana, which led to
Abrahams' removal. This gave a clear indication that he wanted Abrahams gone
and a new NDPP to take over.
Ramaphosa has now appointed a consultative
panel to manage the process of appointing a new national
director of public prosecutions (NDPP) – it is an unprecedented step and
shows just how important he considers the independence and integrity of the
Suspending Jiba and Mrwebi is another big step
towards restoring public faith in an institution which must be seen to act
without fear or favour or with any kind of prejudice or political motive.
What about the process to have them struck as advocates?There's a court process happening in parallel to these inquiries that have now been established by the president. Former NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana had asked the General Council of the Bar (GCB) to go to court to have both Jiba and Mrwebi struck off the roll of advocates. Judge Francis Legodi was scathing of Jiba in particular, finding that she was "reckless" and had "ulterior motives".But his decision was taken on review and in a split decision which surprised many legal commentators, the SCA found that it had failed to establish that Jiba was guilty of misconduct. The GCB is now seeking to challenge that judgment.
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