Lawrence Mrwebi. Picture: SOWETAN
Lawrence Mrwebi. Picture: SOWETAN

Senior National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi are back at work despite continued efforts by the General Council of the Bar (GCB) to have them struck off the roll.

The GCB announced on Tuesday it was heading to the Constitutional Court to appeal the Supreme Court of Appeal decision earlier in July that allowed them to return to work.

Jiba, who is the deputy national director of public prosecutions, was seen as being former president Jacob Zuma’s right-hand person in the NPA.

Nomgcobo Jiba. Picture: SUPPLIED
Nomgcobo Jiba. Picture: SUPPLIED

Jiba and Mrwebi, a special director of public prosecutions and head of the specialised commercial crimes unit, were struck off the roll by the High Court in Pretoria.

The GCB brought the application based on how the pair and advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi had handled three politically loaded cases. One of these was the prosecution of former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, which became grounds for Mrwebi and Jiba to be struck off the roll.

The Supreme Court of Appeal was divided in the judgment, with three judges supporting that they should not be struck off the roll and two indicating that the High Court in Pretoria had been correct in striking them off the roll.

The GCB took the decision to appeal at the weekend.

NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku said the prosecuting authority would only comment once the relevant parties had been served with court papers. He confirmed that Mrwebi and Jiba were back at work and there were no legal impediments precluding them from taking up their positions.

"During the debate, different views were expressed by members of the GCB on whether the GCB should apply for leave to appeal," the GCB said.

"The matter was put to the vote and 18 members voted in favour of applying for leave to appeal, 12 members voted against applying for leave to appeal and two members abstained," the GCB said.

Lobby group Advocates for Transformation, in a statement signed by chairwoman Anthea Platt and Dumisa Ntsebeza, said those members who had voted against applying for leave to appeal were its members. It said it distanced itself from the decision to appeal and could take further steps to vindicate its "principled stance".

It accused the GCB of being inconsistent over the past 10 years with how it had conducted its oversight role.

The group also said it was not "an insignificant factor" that the pair were two of the country’s most senior black prosecutors, and that their pursuit can "scarcely escape the real impression that race, and perceived political affiliation of the two, may be factors that may have contributed to the GCB’s decision, whether consciously or unconsciously".

Correction: July 18

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Dumisa Ntsebeza SC is the chairman of the Advocates for Transformation. It is in fact Anthea Platt SC who chairs it.