Parliament to proceed with the Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi matter
Parliament's two justice committees must decide whether to confirm or revoke President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to dismiss the senior NPA officials
Parliament’s two justice committee have decided to proceed with the process to decide whether to restore dismissed senior National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi to their former positions.
The parliamentary process to confirm or revoke the president’s decision as required by law was held up by a court application by Jiba, the former acting national director of public prosecutions, challenging her dismissal and seeking an interdict to stop the parliamentary process. She lost the case in September.
The removal of Jiba and Mrwebi from office is seen as key to the restoration of the integrity and credibility of the NPA as an institution central to the fight against crime and corruption.
Jiba and Mrwebi were found by an inquiry, led by retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro, to be unfit to hold office.
Jiba was found, among other things, to have acted dishonestly and to have been influenced by external pressure, not to have demonstrated the necessary consciousness and independence required of her position, and to have brought the NPA into disrepute.
The two were suspended in October 2018 and dismissed by President Cyril Ramaphosa in April.
The National Assembly’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services and the National Council of Provinces’ select committee on security and justice are holding separate processes, but both agreed at meetings on Tuesday to give Jiba a final opportunity to make representations to them.
They decided that in the interest of fairness, they would give her seven calendar days to do so. They will begin proceedings after that.
Jiba refused to take advantage of the previous offer by the two committees in July for her to make representations within 10 days, though Mrwebi did.
Portfolio committee chair Bulelani Magwanishe stressed that the parliamentary process had to be concluded before the end of the parliamentary term on December 4.
Members of the portfolio committee were aware of the possibility that Jiba might challenge the parliamentary process and emphasised the need for adopting a cautious approach.
ANC MP Hishaam Mohamed opposed the decision to give Jiba more time to make representations on the grounds of maintaining confidence in integrity of the parliamentary process. She had already been given the opportunity to make representations, which she had refused to take up.
Parliament’s legal adviser, Siviwe Njikela, told the two committees on Tuesday that there was no legal impediment preventing parliament from continuing with its deliberations on the Jiba and Mrwebi matter. He believed that further litigation by Jiba was likely.
“Every strategy is going to be used to drag this matter as far as possible,” he said adding that there were indications that Jiba would appeal against the findings of the Western Cape High Court.
In that case, Jiba lost the first part of her bid to challenge her dismissal and to be reinstated in her post pending the determination of her legal battle to set aside the findings of the Mokgoro ruling and the finalisation of the parliamentary process that will follow if she fails in that court challenge.
Though Jiba had argued that she was entitled to remain in her post until her dismissal by Ramaphosa was either confirmed or reversed by parliament, judge Robert Henney found she had “failed to show that she has a clear right not to be removed by the president before the conclusion of a parliamentary process”.
He further found that Jiba had failed to make a case that Ramaphosa and the NPA had acted unconstitutionally in removing her before that process.