Nomgcobo Jiba at the Mokgoro inquiry. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - Sparks are expected to fly at the Mokgoro Inquiry today as the suspended national deputy director of public prosecutions, advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, battles to retain her job at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) following damning allegations of improper conduct against her.

The Mokgoro Inquiry, led by retired Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mokgoro, is probing the fitness of Jiba and Specialised Commercial Crime Unit head, advocate Lawrence Mrwebi, to hold office in the NPA.

Jiba’s legal counsel was expected to rebut damning allegations that she pioneered the decision to charge former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss General Johan Booysen on a racketeering charge.

She was also expected to dismiss the allegation that she was responsible for the arrest of former top NPA prosecutor Gerrie Nel to prevent him from prosecuting former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi in 2008. Jiba admitted to having deposed the affidavit to the police that was used to arrest Nel.

But she denied accusations that she had disliked Nel for a long time, claiming that the police had requested the affidavit.

In one of the affidavits before the inquiry, advocate Vernon Nemaorani claimed that Jiba disliked Nel for his alleged involvement in the prosecution of her husband, Sikhumbuzo “Booker-T” Nhantsi, in 2005.

Nhantsi was convicted after the Mthatha High Court heard that he stole R193000 held in trust for a client in 2003.

He was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, two of which were suspended for a period of five years. In September, 2010, former president Jacob Zuma erased Nhantsi’s criminal conviction, which allowed him to resume his legal profession.

Already the odds are turning against the duo as several high-ranking NPA officials - including former Asset Forfeiture Unit head Willie Hofmeyr - have implicated them in alleged acts of improper prosecutorial decisions, which, according to Hofmeyr, tarnished the image of the NPA.

Hofmeyr told the Mokgoro Inquiry that the decision of the NPA, then under Jiba as acting head, to charge Booysen for racketeering did not follow the normal quality assurance processes.

Former KZN Hawks head Johan Booysen.

The inquiry heard that the NPA had appointed advocates Anthony Mosing and Elijah Mamabolo to make final decisions for any person to be charged with racketeering because it was a complex charge to be prosecuted.

Mosing and Mamabolo served on the Organised Crime Desk in Jiba’s office. Hofmeyr submitted an email Mamabolo sent to him and former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Mxolisi Nxasana, saying he had been excluded from the decision to charge Booysen.

He said Mamabolo was protesting against the manner in which Booysen had been charged for the offence.

“It is a demonstration of how normal NPA processes were abused in this matter, where there was no substantial evidence linking (Booysen) to any crimes,” Hofmeyr said.

Willie Hofmeyr
Willie Hofmeyer gives evidence at the National Prosecuting Authority inquiry into Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi. Picture: Screengrab

During his testimony, Hofmeyr listed a number of cases involving Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride, former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat, and those of Sars officials Ivan Pillay and Johan van Loggerenberg - all of whom were accused of having spied on Zuma - as some of the questionable decisions made while Jiba was at the helm.

“For a prosecuting authority to be successful, it has to be credible and trusted by the public.

“Losing this trust carries the serious danger that the public may resort to self-help and vigilantism,” he said.

“Thus it is vital that the NPA be free from interference and political considerations in its decisions. It is imperative that these factors play no role when taking decisions on whether or not to prosecute,” Hofmeyr said.

Political Bureau