Clock ticking for Jiba, Mrwebi as Ramaphosa demands swift inquiry
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa wants the inquiry into the fitness of advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi to hold office to be done and dusted by early next year.
In a notice published in the Government Gazette on November 29, retired Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mokgoro, who heads the probe, said: “The inquiry is to furnish a report with all supporting documentation to the president by not later than March 9.”
The notice calls on the public, including interested institutions and organs of state with special interest and/or knowledge, to provide evidence to the inquiry.
The notice also set out the specific deadline on the envisaged work of the commission.
On October 25, Ramaphosa announced his decision to institute an inquiry into the fitness of Jiba and Mrwebi to hold office.
This was after he gave the pair an opportunity to make submissions in August on why they should not be suspended pending an inquiry.
Both Jiba, who is deputy national director of public prosecutions, and Mrwebi, a special director of public prosecutions, are currently on suspension on full pay.
In her notice, Mokgoro said the inquiry was not a judicial one nor a disciplinary hearing or trial.
“The inquiry is not determining whether anyone should face criminal prosecution nor whether anyone is civilly liable for any breaches of the law,” she added.
Mokgoro had given the public and interested parties until November 20 to inform the secretariat of the inquiry of their wish to provide evidence.
The secretariat was to have responded by December 3 to confirm acceptance.
“Parties who have requested to provide evidence to the inquiry must do so by not later than December 20. Facts must be attested to or confirmed by affidavit with supporting documentation, where required,” Mokgoro said.
She further said parties wishing to make written submissions should do so by not later than January 8.
“Written submissions must be concise and succinct with reference to relevant law, and must be furnished under cover of brief summary.”
Mokgoro added that she would use her discretion on any person to make oral submission between January 14 and February 11. “A failure by a deponent to avail himself or herself on request for an oral hearing and/or cross-examination on the date and time determined is likely to impact on the weight afforded to such evidence.”
She said all sittings of the inquiry would be open to the public unless directed otherwise.
“The chairperson may receive evidence in camera and may protect the identity of persons furnishing information if he considers that to be necessary,” Mokgoro added.
In terms of the inquiry’s reference, Ramaphosa has said he was empowered to suspend Jiba and Mrwebi pending an inquiry into fitness to hold “such office as the president deems fit” on grounds of misconduct and incapacity to carry out duties of the office efficiently.
“Certain allegations have been made that raise real and important questions regarding advocates Jiba and Mrwebi’s fitness and propriety to hold office in the aforementioned positions and as members of the National Prosecuting Authority.”
The inquiry would look into matters raised on the pair’s conduct in several court cases which involved the General Council of the Bar of South Africa, Freedom Under Law, former president Jacob Zuma, the DA and former KZN Hawks boss Johan Booysen.
The courts had made adverse findings against Mrwebi and Jiba, and the latter has taken the bid to strike her off the roll to the Constitutional Court. Mokgoro will be assisted by senior counsel Kgomotso Moroka and attorney Thenjiwe Vilakazi, with senior counsel Nazreen Bawa leading evidence.