Jiba gets another chance to explain why she should be deputy NPA boss

Axed deputy NPA boss Nomgcobo Jiba. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24, file)
Axed deputy NPA boss Nomgcobo Jiba. (Jeanette Chabalala, News24, file)

Former deputy NPA boss Nomgcobo Jiba will have seven days to convince the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services to reinstate her as deputy national director of public prosecutions.

This after the committee decided to proceed with the process to determine whether Jiba and her former colleague, Lawrence Mrwebi, should be reinstated after her Western Cape High Court bid to stop it failed two weeks ago.

Jiba had asked the court to order President Cyril Ramaphosa and National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi to reinstate her "with all associated employment benefits with immediate effect".

She also asked the court to interdict or prohibit the president and NDPP from filling the position until the review had been finalised.

This after Ramaphosa fired Jiba and Mrwebi in April following an inquiry headed by retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro.

The inquiry found that they were not "fit and proper to hold their respective offices", according to a statement from the Presidency.

The decision had to be referred to Parliament to determine whether Jiba and Mrwebi should be reinstated, not whether they should be fired.

Parliament has begun work on this process but stalled it pending Jiba's court application in two parts.

In September, Judge Robert Henney heard arguments in the first part of Jiba's application.

Two weeks ago, he delivered his judgment and found Jiba had failed to make a compelling case.

In his written judgment, Judge Henney stated Jiba "has no right to such pre-emptive protection where the NPA Act specifically prescribes she may be removed by the president and may only be restored to her position by Parliament".

"If this relief is to be granted, it would effectively be interdicting Parliament from conducting its oversight function in respect to the president's removal by staying the parliamentary process pending the review."

Judge Henney said the court would "intrude upon the oversight function of Parliament".

On Tuesday, parliamentary legal adviser Siviwe Njikela told the committee there was no legal impediment preventing the committee from continuing with the process.

"It is entirely upon the committee to decide how it is going to proceed," he said.

Njikela warned Jiba might attempt to appeal the decision.

The second part of her application will be heard at a later stage.

In this part, Jiba wants the court to order that Ramaphosa had violated the Constitution and, therefore, acted unlawfully when he instituted an inquiry in terms of section 12 of the act against her.

Njikela told the committee this would not impact its work as it sought to set aside Ramaphosa's decision, and not that of the committee's.

Before the court case, the committee gave Jiba and Mrwebi 10 days to furnish it with a representation on why she should be reinstated. Mrwebi lodged his representation with the committee, but Jiba opted not to do this and instead started the court proceedings.

Njikela said, in his opinion, it was a "bit unwise" on Jiba's part to not make a representation to the committee.

He added it was up to the committee to decide whether or not it would give her another opportunity to do so.

ANC MPs Hishaam Mohamed and Jacqueline Mofokeng said to protect the integrity of the parliamentary process, they did not think Jiba needed another opportunity to make representations.

"This is not only about her, it is also about the citizens of South Africa," Mofokeng said.

The committee, however, decided to allow her to make representations in the interests of fairness. Jiba must do so within seven calendar days once she received the letter from the committee. The letter will also make it clear that this would be her final chance.

Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe said they must conclude the matter before Parliament goes on recess on December 4.

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