High Court to rule on FUL application

2015-11-17 19:27


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Pretoria - The High Court in Pretoria would rule on Thursday if Freedom Under Law (FUL) could continue with an urgent application aimed at suspending two senior National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials.

FUL is seeking an urgent court order to stop Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba and her right-hand man special director of public prosecutions Lawrence Mrwebi from remaining in their jobs pending an investigation into their fitness to hold office.

The organisation wants the interdict to remain in place pending its application to force President Jacob Zuma to suspend Jiba and Mrwebi; institute enquiries against them and set aside a decision by National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams to drop fraud and perjury charges against Jiba.

The two NPA officials have been widely criticised, including by High Court judges and the Supreme Court of Appeal, for their roles in the controversial decisions to withdraw fraud, corruption and murder charges against suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and the attempted prosecution of KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Major General Johan Booysen on racketeering charges.

FUL has relied on a series of adverse court judgments and a damning report by retired Constitutional Court Judge Zak Yacoob implicating Jiba and Mrwebi in impropriety.

Max du Plessis SC, for FUL, argued the case was of paramount public importance as it concerned Zuma's total refusal to act against two of the country's top public officials who wielded enormous public power.

He said there was sufficient cause to say there was a constitutional crisis and nothing was going to be done about the "train wreck" in the NPA unless the court intervened.

"The very recalcitrance of the president to act is urgent... As a public we're entitled to demand the utmost integrity from two persons in such important positions... There's a plethora of information stacking up against them.

"... It cannot be right for individuals accused of this type of impropriety to act in their offices one day longer.

"... The harm is to the reputation of the administration of justice if they continue to make decisions... It is important that the [NPA] office is not under a cloud," Du Plessis said.

Objectives ‘admired’

Judge Bill Prinsloo read out the court rules to Du Plessis, grilling him about FUL's failure to bring the application earlier and then giving the respondents only two days to file opposing affidavits.

Du Plessis argued FUL had to wait for the Yacoob report, which it had only recently received, and then acted as quickly as it could.

Prinsloo said he admired FUL and its objectives, but this did not mean it did not have to follow the rules.

Counsel for Jiba, Mrwebi, the NPA, Zuma and the justice minister argued the application was not urgent, as FUL had been aware of the allegations against the two officials since 2013.

Hilton Epstein SC for the NPA pointed out two other court actions were pending dealing with the same issues.

The DA's application to set aside Zuma's decision not to suspend Jiba was set to be heard in the Western Cape High Court early in February, while an application by the general bar council to strike Jiba, Mrwebi and North Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions Sibongile Mzinyathi from the roll as practising advocates would also be heard early in the new year.

Epstein argued the Yacoob report was "simply an endorsement of previous court rulings, constituted mere comments and could not be used as the reason for urgency".

He said it was significant the bar council did not seek to suspend Jiba and Mrwebi, despite the striking off application.

Counsel for Jiba and Mrwebi argued there was nothing to indicate it would derail the NPA's work or bring it into disrespect if they remained in office.

Read more on:    ful  |  npa  |  johannebsurg

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