Parliamentary committee aims to wrap up Jiba, Mrwebi saga
Parliament has to either confirm the president's decision to fire the two NPA officials or reinstate them to their posts
Parliament’s justice & correctional services portfolio committee could by next week conclude the drawn-out matter relating to the dismissal of former senior National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi.
Jiba and Mrwebi were axed from the NPA earlier this year by President Cyril Ramaphosa, but according to the National Prosecuting Authority Act, parliament has to either confirm his decision or reinstate them to their posts.
Jiba, who was considered former president Jacob Zuma’s go-to person in the NPA, was axed by Ramaphosa, together with former special director of public prosecutions Mrwebi after they were found to be unfit for office by an inquiry chaired by retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro.
The inquiry centred on decisions taken by the pair in relation to politically sensitive prosecutions, such as dropping corruption charges against former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, another Zuma ally.
The move by Ramaphosa to fire the two was largely seen as part of the process of restoring the credibility of the NPA, which for years had been abused for political purposes. The parliamentary process was, however, halted when Jiba interdicted the committee from continuing its work, while she took Ramaphosa’s decision and the Mokgoro report to court.
Bulelani Magwanishe, chair of the committee, said the Jiba and Mrwebi matter would be “processed” by the committee next week before being sent to the House for finalisation.
Last week Jiba told speaker Thandi Modise that she would not make representations to the committee, as she no longer wanted her job back. Citing personal reasons, she said she wanted to move on with her life.
Mrwebi did make representations to the committee. He indicated in a letter dated October 31 that he wanted his legal representative to address the committee on an issue which was first raised in Jiba’s court application. This was that Ramaphosa breached a court order by instituting the disciplinary processes, as ordered by the high court, before the finalisation of the appeal process relating to them initially being struck from the roll of advocates in a separate court process.
Freedom Under Law had obtained the court order — before Ramaphosa was president — to compel Zuma to institute proceedings against Jiba and Mrwebi.
The Supreme Court of Appeal eventually overturned the high court order which struck them from the roll, but this was taken on appeal to the Constitutional Court by the General Council of the Bar. The top court finally held it could not hear the matter as it did not fall under its jurisdiction.
“I request to be afforded the opportunity to address parliament, through legal counsel on the question relating to the conduct of the president and the allegation, which cannot be disputed, that he violated and failed to protect, defend and uphold the constitution,” Mrwebi wrote in the letter.
He emphasised that he believed it would be “extremely unfair” and prejudicial to him if parliament proceeded without affording him this opportunity.