President Jacob Zuma announced the appointment of three new board members to the Media Development and Diversity Agency. Picture: Nqobile Mbonambi

Pretoria – Freedom Under Law (FUL) advocate Max du Plessis told the North Gauteng High Court on Monday, that efforts to try to persuade President Jacob Zuma to institute an inquiry into the fitness of National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Advocates Lawrence Mrwebi and Nomgcobo Jiba to hold office were futile.

Du Plessis was responding to Judge Billy Mothle's question that on what stage was the president supposed to act.

"The president had been given ample time to act. Freedom Under Law brought the matter to his attention and he was also questioned in Parliament," Du Plessis said.

"He said he will make a decision after the General Council of the Bar (GBC) have dealt with the matter. When the GBC made their decision he still failed to act." 

The GBC applied to have the pair removed following several adverse findings against them.

Last year September, Jiba and Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit head Mrwebi were struck from the roll of advocates for their role in dropping charges against suspended head of police crime intelligence Richard Mdluli and the Booysen matter.

In January, Judge Wendy Hughes said Jiba and Mrwebi had provided compelling reasons for their appeal to be heard but warned that they may fail.

In February‚ Zuma decided not to suspend Jiba and Mrwebi‚ or to institute an inquiry into their conduct.

The President said having considered that the high court has granted Jiba and Mrwebi leave to appeal against an order striking them off the roll of advocates‚ he decided not to suspend them pending finalisation of the appeal process.

On Monday, Du Plessis argued that Zuma erred in his decision and should have acted long before even matter was heard in court. 

"There was prima facie evidence to institute an inquiry. When there's prima facie evidence duty must be exercised,  it's not a matter of discretion but duty."

FUL wants the court to declare Zuma's failure to institute an inquiry into the conduct of Jiba and Mrwebi as unlawful and to direct the president to institute such an inquiry.

Earlier,  Advocate Hilton Epstein for Zuma argued that FUL's application was premature and they should have at least waited for the matter to be finalised at the Supreme Court of Appeal as it was still pending.

The matter continues on Tuesday.

African News Agency