Nomgcobo Jiba. Picture: BUSINESS DAY/TREVOR SAMSON
Nomgcobo Jiba. Picture: BUSINESS DAY/TREVOR SAMSON

Nomgcobo Jiba will not take President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to fire her from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) lying down.

The decision to fire Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi, two of the most controversial figures in the organisation over the past decade, is seen as a massive step in restoring the credibility and integrity of the NPA, one of the key promises made by Ramaphosa when he replaced Jacob Zuma in February 2018.

Jiba, who was told of her dismissal as deputy director of public prosecutions via a letter from the presidency on Thursday, has already indicated that her lawyers are ready to take the matter forward. She said she intends to clear her name and legacy as a prosecutor.

Mrwebi, the former special director of public prosecutions, also received his letter of dismissal on Thursday, which took effect the following day. He has not indicated what he will do. The two were fired after an inquiry led by retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro found them unfit to hold office and recommended that they be removed from their positions.

Jiba, one of the four national directors of public prosecutions, was specifically responsible for national prosecutions services, while Mrwebi headed up the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit.

Ramaphosa took a hard line in the dismissal letters, refusing to accede to requests from Jiba to be appointed to another senior position within the state, as well as Mrwebi’s request to retire.

Recently appointed national director of public prosecutions Shamila Batohi on Friday said the decision had ended months of uncertainty.

"It has unburdened the NPA from certain issues that have weighed negatively on the organisation’s credibility and reputation. It sets a new path for the NPA," she said.

She said the decision – which is still to be ratified by parliament – will enable her to move on her commitment to rebuild the NPA leadership.

In her statement on Friday, Jiba said she would fight Ramaphosa’s decision to disqualify her from public service.

"I can assure the president that I will not be stripped, by executive stealth and fiat, of my rights routinely accorded to all citizens to serve this great country in the position of my calling," Jiba said.

She stood by her evidence given in the enquiry.

Among other things, the panel found that Jiba had not acted without fear or favour  and that she brought the NPA into disrepute.

Ramaphosa’s decision to fire Jiba and Mrwebi has to be sent to parliament within 14 days of the decision, which will in turn have 30 days to deal with whether it will leave the president’s decision as is, or whether it would overturn it.

This would in all probability be dealt with by the next parliament, given that the elections are around the corner and political parties are on the last stretch of the campaign.

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