Constitutional Court dismisses bid to debar advocates Jiba and Mrwebi

27 June 2019 - 10:49 By Ernest Mabuza
Nomgcobo Jiba will remain on the advocate's roll.
Nomgcobo Jiba will remain on the advocate's roll.
Image: Gallo Images

The Constitutional Court on Thursday dismissed the General Council of the Bar's (GCB's) bid to have former senior NPA officials Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi removed from the roll of advocates.

In a unanimous decision, justice Chris Jafta dismissed the application by the GCB against the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) on its merits.

The SCA had held that the names of Jiba and Mrwebi should not be removed from the roll of advocates.

Jafta said the court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter because no constitutional issue was raised in appeal and there was no issue of general public importance.

In 2015, the GCB instituted an application in the high court against Jiba and Mrwebi in which it sought an order to strike them off the roll of advocates.

The council relied on complaints relating to their conduct as senior officials of the NPA.

One of the matters was the withdrawal of criminal charges against former police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

In September 2016, the high court in Pretoria removed the names of Jiba, who was deputy national director of public prosecutions, and Mrwebi - the then head of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit - from the roll.

However, Jiba and Mrwebi successfully appealed the high court decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) last year. In its judgment, the SCA upheld Jiba's appeal and ruled that her name should not be struck from the roll of advocates.

In the case of Mrwebi, the SCA found that the high court had properly concluded that he was not a fit and proper person to practise as an advocate.

However, the SCA said the high court had misdirected itself regarding an appropriate sanction and ordered that Mrwebi be suspended as an advocate for only six months.

The GCB appealed to the Constitutional Court against the SCA judgment and the matter was heard in March.

The judgment on Thursday comes a few months after President Cyril Ramaphosa fired Jiba and Mrwebi, following the findings of the Mokgoro inquiry into the fitness of the two officials to hold office.