Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi inquiry starts after a request for former Bosasa COO Agrizzi’s affidavit
Suspended officials deny claim that facilities-management company bribed them to quash a possible prosecution
The inquiry into suspended top National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi kicked off on Monday with evidence leader Nazreen Bawa saying she had asked the state-capture commission to furnish it with former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi’s affidavit.
Weekend newspapers reported that Jiba, suspended deputy national director of public prosecutions, and Mrwebi, a suspended special director of public prosecutions, were allegedly bribed by the facilities-management company to quash a possible prosecution, a claim they have denied.
The Sunday Times reported that Agrizzi would allege in his testimony at the commission, which goes into its fourth day on Tuesday, that Jiba and Mrwebi were among the people bribed by Bosasa. The Sunday Times said Agrizzi would testify that Bosasa paid Jiba and Mrwebi R100,000 and R10,000 a month respectively.
Agrizzi has, however, not yet made the allegation in his testimony.
After years of allegations of improper conduct and political influence against Jiba and Mrwebi, President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended them in October, pending the inquiry into their fitness to hold office. The inquiry is headed by retired justice Yvonne Mokgoro and being held in Centurion, near Pretoria.
At this stage, the inquiry relates to prosecutorial decisions by Jiba and Mrwebi, including the decision to drop criminal charges against former crime-intelligence boss Richard Mdluli. Jiba will also be under the spotlight for the decision to prosecute former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen.
Adverse comments were made about Jiba and Mrwebi in judgments in other cases.
The Mdluli decision was enough to have the pair initially struck off the roll of advocates, but they were placed back on the roll by the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2018, which opened up the door for them to return to work. The General Council of the Bar is appealing against this ruling.
The Booysen decision as it relates to Jiba might come to the fore on Tuesday, the inquiry's second day of evidence.
Advocate Jan Ferreira, who would have prosecuted Jiba on charges of fraud and corruption flowing from her decision to prosecute Booysen on racketeering charges, was on standby to provide evidence.
The charges were withdrawn by former prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams after the prosecution team submitted that the decision to prosecute her was is sound in law.
Chris Macadam, senior deputy director of public prosecutions in the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit, will be the first to give evidence on Tuesday.
On Monday, acting prosections head Silas Ramaite was the first to give evidence of a technical nature, and Chris Jordaan SC, former head of the specialised commercial crimes unit, followed.
The inquiry into the pair is part of an attempt to restore the integrity of the NPA, which has been greatly tarnished for more than a decade by allegations of factionalism, political interference and corruption.
Advocate Thabani Masuku, for Jiba, said she had not received any notice that she was implicated in Agrizzi’s testimony and called on the inquiry not be influenced by what was published in the media or the commentaries made in it.
Masuku queried the timing of the Agrizzi revelations.