Based on the recommendations listed in the report retired Constitutional Court judge, Yvonne Mokgoro, submitted to President Cyril Ramaphosa, it does not seem likely that the suspended heads of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi, will return to office.
As reported by Times Live, after considering submissions that were made by all parties that were involved in the Mokgoro inquiry into Jiba and Mrwebi’s fitness to hold office, the retired judge concluded that Ramaphosa ought to give the two NPA heads the boot.
Why was Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi suspended?
Mrwebi, the director of public prosecutions and his deputy, Jiba, faced suspension for the way they had handled the infamous Richard Mdluli case.
The former head of crime intelligence was suspended, in May 2011, for his alleged involvement in the murder of his former partner’s husband in 1999.
What did not add up, however, was how he had still been receiving his monthly salary and perks for the seven years he had been suspended.
There were also a lot of murmurs about Mrwebi’s handling of certain criminal cases that involved people he was rumoured to have personal relationships with.
Jiba too was accused of nepotism, defeating the ends of justice by protecting her close allies — such as former president Jacob Zuma — from prosecution, and firing former Kwa-Zulu Natal Hawks head, Johan Booysen, for no apparent reason.
Mokgoro inquiry: Motivations behind the judge’s decision
Mokgoro did not mince her words in explaining why the two suspended NPA should be fired from their positions.
Ruling on Jiba:
The retired judge was very critical of Jiba’s lack of conscientiousness in considering the reputation of the NPA before her own. She also lambasted Mrwebi for not acting without favour.
“We find that Jiba’s conduct had the effect of seriously damaging public confidence in the NPA. We find that as a senior member of the NPA, Jiba has displayed irreverence to the courts and indifference to their processes, resulting in adverse comments being made about her.
“We find that Jiba’s conduct had the effect of seriously damaging public confidence in the NPA,” Mokgoro noted in her report.
Regarding her involvement in the Mdluli case, the report revealed that although there was no direct evidence linking her to the poor handling of the entire situation, “the comments and criticisms levelled against her by the courts have brought the NPA into disrepute.”
Ruling on Mrwebi:
Mrwebi was also found to have acted against the interests of the NPA when he withdrew charges against Mdluli, showing a lack of integrity towards the rule of law.
“The courts have levelled criticisms and concerns in the manner in which Mrwebi has discharged the duties of his office and conducted himself towards the courts. Mrwebi’s conduct was openly at variance with what is expected of a person in his position,” Mokgoro stated.
He was also described as a lacking the understanding of the law and how it is applied in legal processes.
What is next: Ramaphosa’s decision
When Ramaphosa launched the inquiry in 2018, had stated that the outcomes of the procession would give him direction on the appropriate decision to make about Jiba and Mrwebi’s fitness to hold office in the NPA.
“It is the interest of the NPA’s image as a whole that I consider here, and of the integrity of an inquiry that must result in the clearest and most convincing conclusions about the integrity and sound leadership of the NPA,” he’d said.
With the ball in his court, the country awaits his response with baited breath.