Politics / 15 February 2019, 07:57am / Baldwn Ndaba and Bongani Hans
Johannesburg - Suspended deputy national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba, has pleaded with the Mokgoro Commission of Inquiry to ignore a damning affidavit lodged against her by former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi.
On Thursday Agrizzi made a last-minute decision not to appear before the Mokgoro Inquiry, established to probe Jiba's and advocate Lawrence Mrwebi’s fitness to hold office.
Jiba, through her attorney, Zola Majavu, told the inquiry she was surprised by Agrizzi’s decision to withdraw. Agrizzi’s legal representative submitted a letter to the inquiry, chaired by former Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, on Thursday, saying Agrizzi would no longer give evidence as he was likely to incriminate himself.
Agrizzi said his decision was prompted by the impending criminal trial against him following his arrest on charges of fraud and corruption involving more than R1.6 billion.
In his application to Mokgoro to expunge Aggrizi’s affidavit, Majavu said Agrizzi was Jiba’s “biggest accuser”.
The Zondo Commission into state capture was told by Agrizzi that Jiba and Mrwebi, suspended head of the National Prosecuting Authority’s specialised commercial crimes unit, had allegedly received monthly cash bribes from Bosasa in exchange for information on a Bosasa investigation.
Majavu conceded in his application that Agrizzi’s affidavit was enough to enable Judge Mokgoro to come to a finding that Jiba was not a fit and proper person to hold a senior position in the NPA.
“My client was ready to meet her accuser. We received the affidavit two weeks ago. We made the necessary preparations to rebut all allegations contained in it. Advocate Jiba is displeased by this recent turn of events,” Majavu said.
Mervyn Rip SC, acting for Mrwebi, expressed similar sentiments, arguing that his client had also made the necessary preparations to dispute Agrizzi’s evidence.
Rip said his client had particularly made preparations about disclosures made about former Correctional Services boss Linda Mti in Agrizzi’s affidavit.
The evidence leaders of the commission rejected the request, saying that the defence counsel for both Jiba and Mrwebi were in possession of 26 other affidavits whose deponents did not give oral evidence before the commission.
Evidence leader Nazreen Bawa asked Justice Mokgoro to allow Agrizzi’s affidavit to be treated similarly to the other 26 affidavits.
Judgment was reserved.
Meanwhile, legal expert Lawson Naidoo said law enforcement authorities should have consulted broadly to establish the implications of arresting Agrizzi.
Naidoo, an executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, said the NPA and Hawks had made a blunder by charging Agrizzi.
“The key issue is the recklessness of the NPA and Hawks for acting without looking at the consequences and implications. They should have consulted more broadly to see what the implications are before proceeding with the arrest,” said Naidoo.
However, Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis said he did not think Agrizzi’s appearance before the Zondo Commission should have prevented the justice system from acting. “These are independent processes and it is very important that when the criminal justice authority believes that they have sufficient evidence, they do charge him.
“It does not mean that Agrizzi would not be able to enter into a bargaining arrangement with the NPA if he is prepared to co-operate with the prosecution of other people accused of corruption,” said Lewis.