Lawrence Mrwebi   File picture: Etienne Creux
Lawrence Mrwebi File picture: Etienne Creux

#MokgoroInquiry: Mrwebi in denial on Mdluli controversy

By BALDWIN NDABA Time of article published Jan 31, 2019

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Johannesburg - Suspended National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) special commercial crime unit (SCCU) boss Lawrence Mrwebi has denied withdrawing criminal charges of fraud and corruption against former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

Mrwebi made the denial yesterday during the cross-examination of Sibongile Mzinyathi, director of public prosecutions in the North Gauteng division, before the Mokgoro Inquiry tasked to probe the fitness of Mrwebi and advocate Nomgcobo Jiba to hold office in the NPA.

Initially, Mzinyathi told the inquiry he was disturbed by a memorandum that he had received from Mrwebi on December 6, which urged withdrawal of criminal charges against Mdluli due to the fact that those charges should have been preferred against him by then-inspector-general of intelligence, advocate Faith Radebe.

Mzinyathi said he was aggrieved by the decision but he reached a consensus with Mrwebi during a meeting on December 9, 2011, which was also attended by Glynnis Breytenbach, who was then regional head of the SCCU in Pretoria.

He said they had agreed to provisionally withdraw charges against Mdluli to allow further investigations into the allegations against him before the matter was re-enlisted.

While Mzinyathi appeared to confirm Mrwebi’s version, Breytenbach told the inquiry a different version when she testified on Tuesday.

Breytenbach said Mrwebi wrote to her and the former Hawks boss on March 30, 2012, after the withdrawal of charges in December 2011, saying that “the Mdluli matter is closed”.

Yesterday, Mrwebi, through his counsel, admitted writing that the matter was closed but said he simply meant that the case had been withdrawn until further investigations.

Yesterday, Jiba, through her legal counsel, advocate Thabani Masuku, also denied allegations that she did nothing to review Mrwebi’s decision to withdraw the charges against Mdluli on December 14, 2011.

According to Masuku, Jiba, on learning about the controversy, appointed two senior State prosecutors, Andre Bekker and Arno Rossouw, to further investigate allegations against Mdluli.

Masuku said the two continued their investigations until the case was struck off the roll in July 2015.

Jiba’s counsel directed the remarks to Mzinyathi, who was the complainant against Jiba and Mrwebi.

However, Jiba made no effort to directly respond to allegations made by her juniors advocate Jan Ferreira and Breytenbach, who testified before Mzinyathi.

Ferreira and Breytenbach, now DA MPs in Parliament, told the inquiry, led by retired Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mokgoro, that Jiba had since April 2012 until now allegedly failed to respond to their memo sent on April 23, 2012, to review Mrwebi’s decision to withdraw criminal charges against Mdluli.

Both Breytenbach and Ferreira said they had handed the copy of their memorandum to Jiba’s personal assistant, but the then acting national director of public prosecutions had failed to acknowledged receipt of it.

Breytenbach further claimed that Jiba’s alleged failure confirmed she wanted to stop the prosecutions of all commercial crime cases she was involved in.

She listed Imperial Crown Trading, in which Zuma’s son Duduzane was accused of having fraudulently obtained his rival tender bidder Kumba Iron Ore’s documents.

Breytenbach also listed the Mdluli matter and the Bosasa matter, in which damning evidence was led against Jiba in the Zondo Commission.

During Breytenbach’s cross-examination, advocate Norman Arendse, one of Jiba’s lead defence lawyers, made no mention about Jiba’s appointment of Bekker and Rossouw.

The hearings continue.

Political Bureau

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