Centurion - Suspended National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Nomgcobo Jiba on Monday received a backhanded comment when she was told she "doesn’t go to church enough.”
This was Advocate Nazreen Bawa’s response to Jiba as she crossed-examined her on the prosecution of former KZN Hawks head Johan Booysen.
During her tenure as acting national director of public prosecutions (NDPP), it is alleged that Jiba sought to prosecute Booysen for racketeering despite not having substantive evidence.
Charges brought against Booysen at the time related to him allegedly running an underground criminal ring which included members of the former Cato Manor Organised Crime Squad that he headed. The unit was accused of carrying out hits against innocent people.
But Jiba told the inquiry that she didn’t know Booysen nor had close links with him.
“The narrative is false. I did not know General Booysen at all. We discovered (here at the inquiry) while standing together that we belong to the same church. I did not know him at all,” she said adding even if she knew him, she would not prosecute him for dubious reasons as she had taken an oath of office.
Bawa then murmured: "you don’t go to church enough" before proceeding with more questions.
Jiba was also quizzed about contents of the docket, which included horrific pictures of the deceased, that were used in Booysen’s racketeering case.
She insisted that all aspects of the case and what had been contained in the docket had to be considered.
She highlighted that her view at the time was that: “He (Booysen) has been aware of the issues relating to the operations and the manner of operations that were conducted by the people under his control.”
Jiba said the NPA’s work on the Booysen matter was premised on the fact that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) had raised concerns about the case and the fact that there was suspicion about the manner in which the Cato Manor Unit was held in high regard in KZN.
“In fact, that got confirmed because at some point there was an article where a judge had commended the work of the unit. It (NPA’s case) was founded on those issues and I never wanted to cast aspersions on my prosecutors in KZN,” she said.
Previously in his testimony, former acting deputy Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in KZN Advocate Simphiwe Mlothswa revealed that he had been placed under immense pressure by Jiba to conduct prosecutions on the Cato Manor Squad.
Mlotshwa said he had raised questions about the validity of the docket and lack of sufficient evidence. It also emerged that Jiba had later sent a team of prosecutors to KZN.
“Yes, he never asked for prosecutors to go to KZN. It was a decision that I made. It is not a decision that he objected to,” Jiba said.
Earlier in the day, Jiba also informed the inquiry that prior to her appointment as acting NDPP on 28 December 2011, she had never assumed the position of acting head of Special Investigation Unit (SIU) contrary to media reports.
“…I recall there was such but I never assumed the position. It never really took place. I had learnt from the media that there was such an appointment.”
Asked about political interference in the NPA’s prosecutorial decisions and whether the minister of Justice and Constitutional Development can interfere in any decision taken by the NDPP, Jiba replied: "Never".
She pointed out that it is the NDPP’s prerogative to prosecute.
“The minister enjoys oversight responsibilities which include briefing for instance. The minister must know what happens in the organisation,” she said and added the NDDP’s office usually conducts a report in accordance with the NPA Act and informs the minister about their decision to prosecute a certain individual.
Jiba also mentioned that the NPA battles with confidential information being leaked to the public.
"We are troubled by media leaks in the institution. That's a fact," she said.