Cyril Ramaphosa not finished mulling arguments from Jiba and Mrwebi
President Cyril Ramaphosa is still considering representations made by senior national prosecuting officials Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi on whether they should be suspended or not pending an inquiry into their fitness to hold office.
Ramaphosa had asked both Jiba, deputy national director of public prosecutions, and Mrwebi, head of the commercial crime unit in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), to furnish him with reasons as to why they should not be suspended by August 10.
More than a month later, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said on Thursday the representations made by Mrwebi and Jiba on the matter were still under consideration by the president.
Ramaphosa had announced that he would institute the inquiries shortly after the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned a judgment that struck the pair from the roll of advocates for how they had dealt with the charges against former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
They were free to take up their high offices in the NPA, following the judgment, which reinstated them to the roll of advocates, which the General Council of the Bar has taken on appeal to the Constitutional Court.
Ramaphosa wrote in the statement announcing his decision on the inquiries, "I cannot underscore the importance of the public’s trust in the National Prosecuting Authority and its most senior management [enough]. It is a constitutional institution that is central to the proper administration of justice. Doubt about the fitness and integrity of anyone in so senior a position as you hold jeopardises this trust and the ability of the NPA as a whole."
The Council for the Advancement of the Constitution (Casac) has also not received a reply to a letter its executive secretary, Lawson Naidoo, sent to Ramaphosa in August, in which he asked when the inquiry would be established, as well as if they would be placed on suspension.
Naidoo then emphasised in the letter that the inquiry "presages an important step in restoring the credibility and capacity of the NPA to deliver on its constitutional mandate, and ensure that government’s commitment to effectively deal with corruption and lawlessness in our society is realised".
He emphasised to Business Day on Friday that the whole issue around corruption and state capture hinged on the capacity of the NPA.
The issue into their fitness to hold office, would also arise in the high court in October where an appeal application against a judgment in December delivered to an application by Freedom Under Law, would be heard.
The court had ordered the president in December to institute the inquiries into Jiba and Mrwebi, and set aside a decision by former NPA head Shaun Abrahams, who was removed following a judgment by the Constitutional Court, to withdraw charges of perjury and fraud against Jiba.
Freedom Under Law’s Nicole Fritz said on Friday that they had brought the application to compel the president to suspend Jiba and Mrwebi and initiate disciplinary proceedings against them because they believed the pair were unfit to hold office.
Fritz said court findings on them, which found that they had misled the courts and that they were dishonest, were "completely contradictory to what is required of those holding office within the NPA".
She said Ramaphosa had himself acknowledged the importance of bringing stability into the NPA and addressing its leadership deficit. She said Freedom Under Law believed part of that required an investigation into the allegations against Jiba and Mrwebi, as "these serious allegations against them, which haven’t been properly considered, [go] … to undermining confidence in the institution".
She said that given the revelations around state capture that have been made to the Zondo commission, SA needs to have the confidence that state institutions will secure accountability.