Suspended senior National Prosecuting Authority officials Lawrence Mrwebi and Nomgcobo Jiba. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro wants serious action taken against politicians who interfere with the work of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) following her recommendation that top prosecutors Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi be axed.

In her final report of the inquiry into Jiba and Mrwebi's fitness to hold office, Mokgoro has told President Cyril Ramaphosa that the NPA Act declares that interference with the work of the NPA is a crime.

"Serious measures must be taken against politicians and members of the executive and other private persons or entities who seek to influence unduly the NPA in the performance of its functions,” reads the report of the inquiry, in which Mokgoro was assisted by senior counsel Kgomotso Moroka and attorney Thenjiwe Vilakazi.

Mokgoro has recommended that Ramaphosa should remove Jiba and Mrwebi as deputy national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) and special director of public prosecutions, respectively.

"Jiba and Mrwebi have been involved in litigation in both their personal and official capacities over the years.

"They have, however, failed to introspect and reflect on the issues which have beset the NPA with their involvement, as reflected in this report,” stated Mokgoro.

She found that Jiba and Mrwebi failed to display the required competence and capacity in fulfilling their duties.

The inquiry found that Jiba lacked conscientiousness and that she was unfit to be an NDPP, deputy NDPP or director of public prosecutions.

"She is also not a fit and proper person, with due regard to her experience, conscientiousness and integrity, (and) to be entrusted with the responsibilities of the office concerned."

Ramaphosa suspended Jiba and Mrwebi in October last year following several damning judgments highly critical of the way they conducted some high-profile prosecutions.

These include appealing the judgments in the spy tapes saga that led to former president Jacob Zuma's fraud and corruption charges being dropped in April 2009, the withdrawal of corruption and fraud charges against controversial ex-crime intelligence divisional commissioner Richard Mdluli, and charging former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen with racketeering, among others.

Mdluli was charged with the unlawful utilisation of funds in the crime intelligence's secret service account for the private benefit of himself and his wife Theresa Lyons.

Mokgoro said Mrwebi's involvement in the withdrawal of charges against Mdluli had led to criticism so severe from high court judges that the findings meant he has been found guilty of misconduct.

The inquiry also found that Jiba's husband Sikhumbuzo Nhantsi, who was jailed for theft of nearly R200000 while practising as an attorney, was granted a presidential pardon by Zuma around the same time the spy tapes saga was unfolding.

At the time, Zuma had just elevated Jiba to the position of deputy NDPP in December 2010, and Mokgoro found that Nhantsi was granted the presidential pardon despite then justice minister Jeff Radebe recommending that it be refused.

"In light of the fact that a pardon is an act of generosity from the president, Jiba's proximity to her husband and her involvement in subsequent Zuma- related cases raises concern,” the inquiry found.

Jiba, who was appointed the NPA's second-in-charge in 2010, acted as NDPP between December 2011 and August 2013, after Menzi Simelane was removed from office, until Mxolisi Nxasana's appointment.

Earlier this year, Jiba and Mrwebi were also implicated by former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi in being on the controversial company's payroll, receiving monthly bribes of R100 000 and R10 000 respectively.

Mokgoro also offered advice for the NPA, pleading with prosecutors to execute their mandate diligently and without fear, favour or prejudice. She warned that when officials are mired in controversy, and their decisions are often taken on review for being irrational and being found wanting, it damaged public confidence.

According to the report, the NPA has been beleaguered by allegations of malfeasance and political interference over the years, and that this was troubling, given the crucial role the institution plays in ensuring that the rule of law, which is the foundation of South Africa’s constitutional democracy, is both respected and safeguarded. 

Mrwebi’s lawyer Amos Vilakazi said Mokgoro had merely made recommendations, and it wasn’t a final decision. He said his client had made written representations to Ramaphosa after being invited earlier this month and was waiting for the outcome.

Jiba’s lawyer Zola Majavu told Independent Media yesterday that he was not aware of Mokgoro’s recommendations, and would comment once he had seen the report.

Political Bureau