Deputy prosecutions head Willie Hofmeyr (L) has accused National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams of protecting fellow deputy prosecutions head Nomgcobo Jiba (R). Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Deputy prosecutions head Willie Hofmeyr (L) has accused National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams of protecting fellow deputy prosecutions head Nomgcobo Jiba (R). Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

A trend to prosecute those who were fighting corruption and the capture of the state emerged under Nomgcobo Jiba and was institutionalised under Shaun Abrahams’s stint as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss, Willie Hofmeyr said on Thursday.

Hofmeyer is the deputy national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) and was recently interviewed for the director’s position that was given to Shamila Batohi.

The frank analysis is contained in Hofmeyr’s affidavit submitted to the inquiry into the fitness of Jiba, suspended deputy NDPP, and Lawrence Mrwebi, suspended head of the specialised commercial crimes unit (SCCU), to hold office.

The inquiry was instituted by President Cyril Ramaphosa and is chaired by retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro.  The inquiry into the pair, which deals largely with prosecutorial decisions taken on politically sensitive cases, is part of the process of restoring the integrity of the NPA following more than a decade of turbulence.

Homeyr, who is the former head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, said in his affidavit that this trend particularly included persons in law enforcement. He said the persecution of those fighting corruption included, among others, former senior state prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach; former Hawks head Anwa Dramat; former Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya; and Robert McBride, head of the independent police investigative directorate (Ipid).

Hofmeyr said the first of the cases was the attempt to prosecute former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen on racketeering charges. He said Booysen launched investigations into corruption in the province, which included investigating the so-called Amigos case that implicated senior ANC politicians in the province.

“I submit that the charges laid against Booysen was an attempt to remove him from office, or at least to ensure that [a] more pliable acting head would be appointed in his place who would close down the investigations,” Hofmeyr said .

Unlawful appointment

The charges were initially brought by Jiba, who moved the case from Simphiwe Mlotshwa, director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal — where the alleged crime occurred — to Andrew Chauke, the director of public prosecutions in South Gauteng. Jiba was acting NDPP at the time she made the decision.

Hofmeyr said in his affidavit that he believed Jiba’s appointment of Chauke was unlawful and that the NDPP’s office did not have the power to change the jurisdiction for which a director of public prosecutions was appointed.

The decision to charge Booysen was reviewed and set aside in court, but Abrahams charged Booysen again when he took over as NDPP.

Hofmeyr also referred to the fraud charges brought against public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan when he was finance minister, and senior former officials of Sars Oupa Magashula and Ivan Pillay. They were charged with much fanfare, but the charges were withdrawn a mere two weeks later by Abrahams.

Hofmeyr also referred to the kidnapping charges against Dramat and Sibiya, which have been withdrawn by the NPA. Sibiya was also acquitted on fraud charges. Charges against McBride and two other Ipid officials of defeating the ends of justice were also brought and withdrawn.

Hofmeyr also referred to Breytenbach’s prosecution in which she was acquitted of  all charges.

Evidence leader Nazreen Bawa asked Hofmeyr on Thursday what Jiba’s level of involvement as deputy NDPP of prosecutions would have been in the cases he listed in his affidavit. Hofmeyr said that if she was a diligent head of prosecution services, he imagined that she “would have looked deeply into these cases”. He said it was clear “something was going deeply wrong in the NPA”.

Mokgoro ruled that Abrahams should be furnished with Hofmeyr’s affidavit and be asked to file an affidavit himself. This was after Jiba’s counsel Norman Arendse raised an issue with the allegations contained against Abrahams in Hofmeyr’s affidavit. Hofmeyr has not yet been cross-examined.

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