'It has been a long road for emotional Jiba' - lawyer

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Axed deputy prosecutions boss Nomgcobo Jiba. (File: Beeld)
Axed deputy prosecutions boss Nomgcobo Jiba. (File: Beeld)

Former deputy prosecutions boss Nomgcobo Jiba was too "emotional" and "distraught" to talk following a ruling by the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) that dismissed a General Council of the Bar of South Africa (GCB) application aimed at striking her and former colleague Lawrence Mrwebi from the roll of advocates, her lawyer said.  

Jiba's lawyer, Zola Majavu, said on Thursday that it had been a long road for his client in her fight to stay on the roll.

"I spoke to her, she was too distraught to talk," Majavu said following the ruling. "It's been a four-year long journey."

In the unanimous judgment written by Justice Chris Jafta, the ConCourt found the GCB had not established that the matter fell within its jurisdiction.

READ: Jiba and Mrwebi will not be struck from roll of advocates after ConCourt ruling

"This means that the appeal cannot be entertained," Jafta said.

Jiba and Mrwebi were struck from the roll on September 15, 2016, after Judge Francis Legodi, in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, agreed with the GCB that they were "not fit and proper" to be advocates.

The matter went to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), which overturned the High Court's ruling, but the GCB approached the ConCourt for relief.

Majavu told reporters that when the Mokgoro inquiry - which looked into Jiba and Mrwebi's fitness to hold office - started in November 2018, they had already received a date of hearing at the ConCourt.

"We suggested to the president [Cyril Ramaphosa] that it would perhaps be prudent for him to wait for the ConCourt process to be finalised. Those submissions were not received favourably.

"At the Mokgoro inquiry we then said you are creating a legal conundrum because an inquiry of that nature does not have the power or the authority to overtake the factual findings of the second highest court [the SCA] in the land."

'Some cows are holier than others'

Majavu said Jiba felt she was targeted because she was a black woman.

"She feels that some cows are holier than others. She feels she is being targeted because she is black and female. Those are her feelings and those are my instructions," he added.

Meanwhile, Mrwebi said he welcomed the judgment.

"I'm very happy. I'm still digesting the news. It is the greatest news ever. That is all I can say for now. Now, I am preparing for Parliament and I believe we will have a better argument there," he told News24.

The GCB's chairperson, Craig Watt-Pringle SC, expressed disappointment at the outcome.

Watt-Pringle said the ConCourt had concluded that the GCB's "attack" was, in substance, only aimed at the majority of the SCA's factual findings, and therefore it did not have the jurisdiction to entertain the appeal on the merits.

"They accepted that the majority may well have got the facts wrong, but they say they can't resolve the difference of opinion," he added.

"The ConCourt has not endorsed the findings of the SCA majority and has not found the minority to be wrong. What they found is that they don't have the jurisdiction and therefore they can't entertain the merits."

It, however, granted leave and upheld the GCB's appeal against the High Court's order that it should pay the costs of the third respondent, Mr [Sibongile] Mzinyathi, on the basis of the High Court's finding that no case was made out against him.

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