NPA complaint now a national legal caseComment on this story
Pretoria - The Pretoria Bar Council has escalated the complaint of misconduct and perjury laid by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) against its senior officials to the General Bar Council of SA saying “this is a serious national matter”.
This was after the NPA laid a charge of perjury and complaints of misconduct with the Pretoria Bar Council against Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba, head of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit Lawrence Mrwebi and North Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions Sibongile Mzinyathi.
Chairman of Pretoria Society of Advocates Bertus Bergenthuin SC said they had discussed the matter at a bar council meeting on Tuesday and took a decision to refer it to the General Bar Council of SA because of the seriousness of the complaint.
“Basically this is a national matter. There are specific findings by judges against these individuals,” Bergenthuin said.
Advocate Jeremy Muller of the General Bar Council of SA confirmed he had received the complaint and would appoint a subcommittee to look into the allegations.
“It has just arrived on my desk,” Muller said. He added: “It is a matter that we have to take seriously because it’s a formal complaint from the NPA.
“It’s still premature at the stage to say what decision we will be taking as this matter still has to be evaluated.”
Like the Pretoria Bar Council, the General Bar Council Of SA has the power to launch an application with the high court to have the names of Jiba, Mrwebi and Mzinyathi struck from the roll if they are found guilty of misconduct and they could be barred from practising as prosecutors.
However, a law expert who did not want to be identified said if they were not members of the Bar, the General Bar Council does not have the power to take disciplinary action against them.
“It’s the NPA that must charge them for misconduct and hold a disciplinary action against them because they are their employees,” he said.
The complaint against Mrwebi relates to the withdrawal of charges against former Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli, which the North Gauteng High Court found to be illegal, irrational and based on irrelevant considerations and material errors in the law.
It was found that Jiba had misled the North Gauteng High Court in the Freedom Under Law application regarding Mdluli and Mzinyathi was also found to have misled the court in the same matter.
In a separate matter, a complaint of perjury was lodged against Jiba after the court found that she had lied about applying her mind to four statements before deciding to prosecute Major-General Johan Booysen, who was head of the Hawks in KwaZulu-Natal. He faced charges of racketeering, but they were withdrawn.
Both Jiba and Mrwebi could not be reached for comment this week.
Mzinyathi told The Sunday Independent that he was officially informed about the charges against him during a management meeting on Wednesday.
When asked if he was considering challenging the decision to lay charges of misconduct against him, he said: “I will wait for the processes that are currently under way to be finalised.”
But Mzinyathi said he was concerned about the charges.
“Who would not be concerned when they are charged?”
He said in the meantime he would focus on his job.