Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi finally give submissions about keeping their NPA jobs
‘Doubt about the fitness and integrity of any one in so senior a position as you hold jeopardises this trust, and the ability of the NPA’
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office has confirmed that he has received submissions from controversial prosecuting heavyweights Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi on why they should not be suspended‚ pending inquiries into their fitness to hold office.
The pair filed the submissions less than two hours after the Constitutional Court announced that it would deliver judgment on the validity of National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams’s position on Monday.
Earlier this month, Ramaphosa asked Jiba and Mrwebi to provide him with reasons why they should not be suspended‚ pending inquiries related to multiple court rulings against them. Both came under fire for their handling of cases involving former president Jacob Zuma‚ as well as their decision to drop corruption and murder charges against self-proclaimed Zuma loyalist and former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
Rights group Freedom Under Law won a court order late last year compelling Zuma to institute inquiries into both officials in light of the multiple rulings against them‚ and to suspend them pending these inquiries.
Jiba’s attorney Zola Majavu confirmed that Jiba had met her deadline to make submissions on why she should not be suspended‚ but would not elaborate on their content. "We must give the president space to consider‚ and inform us once he has made a decision. Until then‚ there will be no commentary on the matter and we won’t discuss the submissions as that would be disrespectful of the president."
As yet, it is unclear when Ramaphosa intends to make his decision on whether Jiba and Mrwebi can remain at work pending the outcome of the inquiries against them. He stated within days of becoming president that addressing "leadership issues" at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was one of his priorities.
In his letters to Jiba and Mrwebi‚ Ramaphosa stated: "I cannot underscore the importance of the public’s trust in the NPA and its most senior management. It is a constitutional institution that is central to the proper administration of justice. Doubt about the fitness and integrity of any one in so senior a position as you hold jeopardises this trust, and the ability of the NPA as a whole.
"The allegations made in these various judgments have been in the public domain for many years now‚ and despite the litigation at issue not reaching conclusion, the pronouncements by these various members of the judiciary have negatively tainted the image of the NPA, and will continue to do so until fully ventilated and addressed."
Meanwhile‚ the General Council of the Bar is seeking to challenge a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment that found it had failed to establish that Jiba was guilty of misconduct. In a split ruling‚ the court’s majority overturned a judgment that Jiba should be struck from the roll of advocates.
While the majority ruling given by Judge Jerry Shongwe found that Jiba could not be found guilty of misconduct‚ he suggested she may well be incompetent for the senior position she occupies at the NPA.
Said the judge: "Perhaps one may infer some form of incompetence with regard to her duties‚ which may be a ground to remove her from being the [deputy NDPP], but not sufficient enough to be removed from the roll of advocates."