Nomgcobo Jiba says she has faced a number of “unprecedented” attacks after she was appointed deputy national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) in 2010.

For the first time, Jiba opened up about allegations made against her when she took to the stand to give evidence at the Mokgoro inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

Jiba is currently suspended, pending the outcome of the inquiry led by former Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro. Jiba was widely seen as former president Jacob Zuma’s right-hand person in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and has been criticised for authorising racketeering charges against former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen.

She was charged with fraud and perjury based on her conduct on the matter, but this was withdrawn.

Separate to this, in March the Constitutional Court will also hear an application for leave to appeal a judgment by the Supreme Court of Appeal that placed her back on the roll of advocates.

The General Council of the Bar maintains that Jiba, and her suspended colleague Lawrence Mrwebi, be struck from the roll based on adverse judicial comments made about how they had dealt with politically sensitive cases, including the withdrawal of charges of fraud and corruption against former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

Jiba said in her opening statement to the inquiry that the DA had led the charge against her and declared that she was not to be trusted to serve SA. 

“So unfair, harsh and vicious were these attacks that it prompted the minister of justice and constitutional development to issue a public statement in my defence.” 

She said she hoped to win over her critics by demonstrating a principled level of commitment and integrity in the performance of her work.

 "What I did not realise what the impact of my critics within the NPA,” Jiba said. 

Former senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, who is now a DA MP, and Jiba’s fellow deputy NDPP Willie Hofmeyr have given evidence at the inquiry, on a range of issues they had with Jiba, including the rate at which her career in the NPA sky-rocketed.

“Advocate Breytenbach appeared to resent my work so much as to actively promote a narrative of a failing NPA under my leadership. As for the hostility of Mr Hofmeyr, I can truly state that it did not come as a surprise. I do not believe that Mr Hofmeyr was ready to report to an African woman in the NPA and even [for] that I could forgive him — for our society has been deeply patriarchal, and old habits die hard,” Jiba said.

She said that “what was a surprise to me was the depth of hatred and resentment that he felt about my promotion. I am deeply offended that he had the temerity to accuse me of playing political games with the NPA without a shred of evidence”. 

Hofmeyr said during his evidence that a trend had emerged under Jiba’s leadership that NPA prosecuted those who were seen as being obstacles to corruption, such as Booysen.

He had also said if one had to look at which serious corruption cases was prosecuted over the past seven years, the answer would probably be “zero”.

Jiba said Hofmeyr scandalised the NPA by his statements. 

“In an unprecedented attempt to take away from me any prospects of serving as a leader of the NPA, he manufactured dangerous and unjustified political theories in assessing what had gone wrong in the NPA. He failed to understand that his views of the NPA were hurtful to the standing of the NPA because they were made without any shred of evidence,” Jiba said.   

She said she could tolerate Breytenbach’s resistance, as she had joined a political party, but that Hofmeyr remained a senior member in the NPA.  

She said her children have asked many times why she was in the newspapers and the media so often.   

“I have had to assure them that there is peace after a storm and asked for their support. As all children, they readily offer such support unreservedly. The years of public vilification have been painful to me and while I have developed a thick resistance to it, I have felt the promptings of human frailty,” Jiba said.

She said that whatever the outcome, she welcomed the chance to speak for herself. 

“The NPA is bigger than any one of us. It is a national treasure that must be treated with reverence by all of us and honoured for its indispensable constitutional role in preserving the rule of law. Our constitutional democratic system depends on what the NPA does,” Jiba said.