Mrwebi, Jiba must give reasons why they shouldn't be suspended - Zuma

2016-10-25 17:38
Lawrence Mrwebi (Herman Verwey, Beeld)

Lawrence Mrwebi (Herman Verwey, Beeld)

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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday announced his intention to suspend National Prosecuting Authority advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi.

“The President has requested the two advocates to provide him with reasons as to why they cannot be suspended pending the outcome of the inquiry into their fitness to hold office,” the Presidency said in a statement.

The High Court in Pretoria ruled on September 15 that Jiba and Mrwebi’s names be struck off the roll of advocates. The General Council of the Bar brought the application, following their handling of cases involving former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen and former police crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

In a scathing 109-page judgment Judge Frans Legodi wrote: “I cannot believe that two officers of the court [advocates] who hold such high positions in the prosecuting authority will stoop so low for the protection and defence of one individual who had been implicated in serious offences.”

They should have stood “firm and vigorous” and persisted with their prosecution of Mdluli on fraud and corruption charges.

“By their conduct, they did not only bring the prosecuting authority and the legal profession into disrepute, but have also brought the good office of the President of the Republic of South Africa into disrepute by failing to prosecute Mdluli, who inappropriately suggested that he was capable of assisting the President of the country to win the party presidential election in Mangaung during 2011 should the charges be dropped against him.”

Legodi said Mrwebi was supposed to be part of a system that effectively investigated and prosecuted the surge of corruption and fraud. Jiba was the “commander in chief”. Her failure to intervene when she was required to brought the legal profession and prosecuting authority into disrepute.

“Both Mrwebi and Jiba should be found to have ceased to be fit and proper persons to remain on a roll of advocates.”

Mdluli had been accused of murdering a love rival and also of fraud and corruption for allegedly abusing a crime intelligence fund.

Three sets of lawyers

The NPA however decided to withdraw the corruption charges against him. Lobby group Freedom Under Law (FUL) wanted the record that led to this decision, but delays and conduct over this appeared to be Jiba and Mrwebi's undoing.

Legodi accused Jiba of dishonesty and of passing the buck in her handling of the FUL application.

She went through three sets of lawyers who withdrew from representing her. A fourth said they could not support her decision because, in their view, there was allegedly a prima facie case against Mdluli.

Legodi found Mrwebi had not been honest in handling the withdrawal of the charges against Mdluli. There were discrepancies with dates of meetings; he had already made the decision to withdraw charges against Mdluli before consulting his colleague Sibongile Mzinyathi, and had already told Mdluli's lawyers about his decision.

He tried to claim it was not a matter for the police, but for the inspector general of intelligence to handle. 

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said it was up to Zuma whether to suspend Jiba and Mrwebi, therefore the NPA would not comment.


Read more on:    npa  |  nomgcobo jiba  |  lawrence mrwebi  |  justice

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