Acting NPA boss must clarify decision on Nomgcobo Jiba
Silas Ramaite needs to confirm if the director of public prosecutions in the North West has dropped charges of fraud and perjury
The pressure is now on acting prosecutions boss Silas Ramaite to clarify whether the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has declined to charge its suspended deputy national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba on charges of fraud and perjury.
The inquiry into Jiba and suspended special director of public prosecutions Lawrence Mrwebi’s fitness to hold office heard on Thursday that the director of public prosecutions in the North West has declined to prosecute Jiba. Her lawyer, Zola Majavu, however, said he was yet to receive formal confirmation.
He said that the director of public prosecutions in the North West, who had initially informed him of the decision after the inquiry asked for clarity on the matter on Wednesday, told him that Ramaite would have to communicate the decision.
Majavu said the decision not to prosecute was taken in August 2018. Evidence leader Nazreem Bawa had earlier on Thursday said Ramaite had told her telephonically that no decision has been taken yet.
The pressure on Ramaite comes a week before new national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi takes office after she was appointed in December. Batohi will be tasked with restoring the integrity of the NPA, which has taken a massive hit for more than a decade.
The charges related to Jiba’s conduct in charging former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen with racketeering. The case was withdrawn in 2015 by then NDPP Shaun Abrahams, but this decision was reviewed and set aside by the high court in Pretoria after lobby group Freedom Under Law took the matter to court.
Advocate Jan Ferreira, who was the prosecutor in Jiba’s matter, provided evidence at the inquiry on Thursday, specifically dealing with the decision to drop the charges against former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli as well as that against Jiba.
Ferreira said he believed both Jiba and Mdluli should have been prosecuted. He said in his affidavit that Abrahams’s interest in Jiba’s case was “exceptional”.
He said Abrahams had called them for a briefing on the case after he was appointed NDPP in June 2015.
“I am not aware what prompted this action because he certainly did not engage each and every case which was on the roll at that stage or even each high profile case on the roll,” Ferreira said in his affidavit. “His action in this case involving advocate Jiba was thus exceptional.”
Ferreira said he had received a message from Abrahams to meet the day before JIba’s trial. In the meeting, they were told that a decision had been taken by advocate Marshall Mokgatle to withdraw the charges. Ferreira said he informed Abrahams that questions would be asked about how Mokgatle could review his decision to prosecute, as they were on the same level within the NPA. Abrahams however said an independent decision had been taken.
Ferreira said Jiba never made any representations to either Abrahams or Mokgatle on the case. He also differed with the decision by Mrwebi to withdraw charges against Mdluli, saying there was a prima facie case against him. He told the inquiry under cross-examination that he was worried that Mdluli was being protected, as he could not understand why a prima facie case could be withdrawn.
“During the tenure of Mr Abrahams it was clear to me that he would not act in any way against Adv Jiba or Adv Mrwebi and he again placed Adv Jiba in control of all prosecutions in the NPA,” Ferreira said in his affidavit.
He said it would, in his view, be in the best interest of the NPA not to have a senior member of the NPA embroiled in criminal litigation.
Ferreira is still being cross-examined.