Nomgcobo Jiba, Lawrence Mrwebi must go, says Yvonne Mokgoro
Retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro has recommended that President Cyril Ramaphosa fire senior prosecutors Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi after finding the pair were not fit for their senior roles in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
In the report released this week, Mokgoro was scathing of them, finding that they compromised the independence of the NPA.
“In view of the totality of evidence, and in light of the evaluation … we find that both Jiba and Mrwebi are not fit and proper to hold their respective offices,” the report read.
Mokgoro’s report said Jiba’s conduct on multiple instances showed a “lack of conscientiousness”, while Mrwebi was found to have failed to act without favour and to the prejudice of the NPA.
Ramaphosa appointed the inquiry last year to determine their fitness to hold office following multiple scathing court judgments.
The inquiry considered Jiba’s role in charging former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen, her role in the spy tapes matter and both their roles in the withdrawal of charges against controversial former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
“We find that Jiba’s conduct had the effect of seriously damaging public confidence in the NPA,” Mokgoro found.
The three-member panel found that Jiba compromised her integrity and “consequently cannot be entrusted with the responsibilities of the office that she holds”.
Jiba was also found to have compromised the independence of the NPA when she authorised racketeering charges against former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Booysen.
In view of the totality of evidence, and in light of the evaluation … we find that both Jiba and Mrwebi are not fit and proper to hold their respective offices.
Multiple court rulings showed she undermined the courts and thus violated the constitution.
“We find that as a senior member of the NPA, Jiba has displayed irreverence to the courts and indifference to their processes, resulting in adverse comments being made about her.”
It added: “We find that Jiba’s conduct had the effect of seriously damaging public confidence in the NPA.”
On her role as then acting national director of public prosecutions (ANDPP) in the withdrawal of charges against Mdluli, the report found that she failed to properly exercise her discretion.
“The series of Jiba’s decisions taken in her capacity as ANDPP, which were all set aside on review, the comments and criticisms levelled against her by the courts have brought the NPA into disrepute,” the report found.
Turning to Mrwebi, Mokgoro found that his decision to withdraw fraud charges against Mdluli was against the NPA Act and found that he did not act with integrity.
“The courts have levelled criticisms and concerns in the manner in which Mrwebi has discharged the duties of his office and conducted himself towards the courts. Mrwebi’s conduct was openly at variance with what is expected of a person in his position,” it found.
The report also found that Mrwebi “showed himself to lack an understanding of the law and the legal process”.
“Mrwebi’s lack of appreciation regarding his behaviour in keeping secret the representations from criminal suspects implicated in the investigation carried out by the NPA into alleged improprieties perpetrated by officials of Crime Intelligence and his admission that he took those representations into account without verifying the truthfulness of their contents, confirms that his decision to withdraw the prosecution of Mdluli was irrational and unlawful,” Mokgoro said.
Mokgoro’s report said Jiba and Mrwebi had been involved in litigation in their personal and official capacities over the years, but they had failed to introspect and reflect on the issues that had beset the NPA.