Damning evidence against Jiba, Mrwebi

Deputy director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba. File photo.
Deputy director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba. File photo.
Image: Antonio Muchave

“It’s incredibly difficult to have people work in an organisation who are either spying on the organisation to give information to accused people or trying to sabotage its work in various ways.”

This damning statement from the deputy national director of public prosecutions at the NPA, Willie Hofmeyr, summarised his evidence before the inquiry into his colleagues Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi’s fitness to hold office.

On day nine of the hearings, chaired by retired judge Yvonne Mokgoro, Hofmeyr testified that he had serious concerns about the pair’s fitness.

“For members of the NPA to actively collaborate with others to sabotage or attempt to sabotage an investigation, I think is as serious as it can get,” Hofmeyr said.

He accused both Jiba and Mrwebi of interfering in cases to influence their outcomes.

“Once you start manipulating the outcomes of cases to please politicians, that ends up being a disaster for the NPA – and is what we have seen over the past two years,” he said.

The one-time head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit said he believed Jiba was unfit to hold office because she “played political games”.

“A very concerning development trend that emerged under Jiba, and was almost institutionalised by [Shaun] Abrahams, was to prosecute those who were perceived as obstacles to corruption and the capture of the state,” he said.

He mentioned Jiba’s involvement in having former prosecutor Gerrie Nel arrested as “an attempt to derail the Selebi prosecution”.

Nel was arrested in 2008 while investigating former police commissioner Jackie Selebi. The charges were withdrawn.

Hofmeyr inferred that Jiba’s involvement in Nel’s arrest was because Nel had investigated and arrested Jiba’s husband, Booker Nhantsi, for stealing his client’s money.

“Their conduct in assisting the police to arrest Nel also put them in direct conflict with the obligations on a prosecutor to act impartially, which requires that they do not become personally involved in any matter,” he said.

He also said the wrongful prosecution of Hawks’ KwaZulu-Natal head Johan Booysen was another reason why Jiba should not hold office.

“The charges laid against Booysen were an attempt to remove him from office, or at least to ensure that a more pliable acting head would be appointed in his place who would close down the investigations [of corruption against ANC KwaZulu-Natal politicians],” he said in his affidavit.

When asked about Mrwebi, he said he believed he was too incompetent to hold the office of special director of public prosecutions.

“I think the way in which he refused to co-operate with [former NDPP Mxolisi] Nxasana was also a serious issue.”

He also said Jiba and Mrwebi were insubordinate and refused to provide Nxasana with reports on controversial cases.