Mandy Wiener

Jiba, why should we believe you?

2019-02-22 06:01
Suspended deputy NPA boss Nomgcobo Jiba testifying before the Mokgoro inquiry. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

Suspended deputy NPA boss Nomgcobo Jiba testifying before the Mokgoro inquiry. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24)

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Appealing to sentiment won't be enough to convince the fed up general public that Nomgcobo Jiba had nothing to do with the largescale destruction of the prosecuting authority, writes Mandy Wiener.

For more than twelve years, Nomgcobo Jiba has kept quiet. She has maintained her silence in the face of damning court judgments, suspensions, scathing media reports and condemnatory allegations from colleagues.

She has spoken only through affidavits, responding in the black and white of court papers, and as she says, through her work.

Thus it was with great anticipation and expectation that she took the witness stand at the Mokgoro Inquiry into her fitness to hold the office of Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions.

Advocate Jiba presented as a largely polarising and divisive figure who was the victim of racism and patriarchy, who denied any political meddling or politicised agendas, who was acting on advice given to her and not her own legal insights and who took little if any responsibility for her actions.

She appealed to emotions and this seemed to resonate with some, with fans showing support and appreciation for her on social media.

Jiba spoke of the 'unprecedented attacks' she faced that were 'unfair, harsh and vicious'. She believed that her colleague Advocate Willie Hofmeyr, who has been one of the key witnesses against her, 'was not ready to report to an African woman in the NPA' but she was surprised by the 'depth of hatred and resentment that he felt' about her promotion.

"I am deeply offended that he had the temerity to accuse me of playing political games with the NPA without a shred of evidence," she told the inquiry.

In essence, she argued that former senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach and Hofmeyr were trying to hold her back because they couldn’t celebrate the success of a young, black woman.

Jiba also testified that she was hurt when she was criminally charged for perjury in connection with the case against former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen.

"I have never felt so betrayed by my own institution in my entire life when I was paraded before a court as a criminal, merely for exercising a discretion.

"I was extremely disappointed and hurt that the institution found it so easy to turn the tables and charge me for doing my job and leave those that are supposed to go and answer for the wrong acts they have committed."

No mention there of the fact that a court found that she lied and used non-existent documents to exercise that discretion.

She denied that she supported former National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi in his court bid against the NPA.

She denied that she knew former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli or protected him from prosecution.

On the spy tapes, she said she was merely acting on advice and continuing an approach that was made before her appointment.

She never took money from anyone at Bosasa. Angelo Agrizzi was talking nonsense. Somebody else must have been collecting the cash in her name. Jiba - the ultimate victim.

She worked hard to appeal to the emotions of the gallery and the commissioners.

She presented herself as being ‘overwhelmed’ by the position of NDPP, how her 'little children' ask her all the time why she’s in the newspapers.

As one journalist pointed out, she also wanted to show the inquiry photographs of the deceased in the Booysen matter to illustrate how brutally they were killed, as if the brutality of a person's death could speak to her decision to authorise a racketeering charge against Booysen.

She even ended with a plea to the panel to protect the independence of prosecutors.

Undoubtedly, Advocate Jiba deserves this opportunity to present her side of the story to the inquiry and to the public.

After years of staying silent, at least we now have a version to balance the narrative that is out there.

She too has welcomed this chance to 'liberate' herself and 'to heal' but also for the public and society in general to see the truth.

The problem for Jiba though is that she is up against evidence, hard facts, court judgments, and witnesses, armed with years of ammunition and eager to throw it all at her.

Her cross-examination next week will be brutal as her critics will line up to finally get a chance to lynch her publicly.

Appealing to sentiment won’t be enough to convince the fed up general public that she had nothing to do with the largescale destruction and capture of the country’s prosecuting authority over the past decade.

She has never given us reason to believe her before. Why should we start now?

- Wiener is a specialist reporter for News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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