Mokgoro Inquiry: Feigning victimhood and indignation, Jiba testifies at Mokgoro inquiry
The embattled and now suspended Deputy Head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Nomgcobo Jiba, had her say at the Mokgoro Inquiry that seeks to determine her fitness to hold office at the NPA. After years of loyal service, Jiba stated how shocked she was at how her colleagues at the NPA treated her like a common criminal.
Testifying for the first time on Thursday, Nomgcobo Jiba, said there was “nothing unlawful” in her decision to pursue racketeering charges against former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss, Johan Booysen. And nor was there anything wrong in her dropping the fraud and corruption charges against former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli. She also did not act unlawfully for her role in not releasing the “spy tapes” back in 2009, she said. Jiba denied accepting the R100,000 monthly bribes from Bosasa as alleged by the company’s former CFO Angelo Agrizzi at the Zondo Commission. For her, these allegations come from her colleagues at the NPA who had “deep resentment” about her promotion and were not willing to work under a “black woman”. In the early weeks of the inquiry, former and current NPA prosecutors offered blistering testimony against Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi, now suspended Special Director of Public Prosecutions at the NPA, about their interference in high-profile cases. A bulk of the damning testimony came from Willie Hofmeyr (also Deputy NPA Head), Glynnis Breytenbach, former NPA prosecutor, and Jan Ferreira, senior deputy director of public prosecutions (DDPP). Ferreira, Jiba and Mrwebi halted the fraud and corruption prosecution against Mdluli when they were appointed to their senior posts, while Hofmeyr testified that they both targeted corruption-busters in the NPA. Breytenbach, who was ousted from the NPA during the Mdluli matter, gave testimony of her harrowing experience while pursuing the charges against Mdluli. On Wednesday, Mrwebi took to the stand to defend his part in the allegations against him as the Special Director of the Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit, stating that he was merely a casualty caught up in political fights by people using the NPA while he was doing his job. Testifying on Thursday, Jiba laid the blame for her predicament at the door of Hofmeyr. “In an unprecedented attempt to take away from me any prospects of serving as leader of the NPA, he (Hofmeyr) manufactured dangerous and unjustified political theories in assessing what had gone wrong in the NPA,” said Jiba. In her opening statement, Jiba spoke of her “humble beginnings” as a “little African girl” in the “dusty township” of Kwazakele in Port Elizabeth. According to Jiba, when she became a prosecutor in 1988 she never dreamt that she would one day serve as the country’s Deputy NDPP. She went on to say that she “experienced unfair, harsh and vicious attacks from within and outside the NPA” and was “hurt” by the reckless statements made by her colleagues and the media regarding her integrity. However, she “trust(s) the integrity and sense of fairness of the panel” in the inquiry to judge her fitness to hold office. Jiba’s counsel, advocate Thabani Masuku then proceeded to lead her through her affidavit and for her to explain her side in the Booysen case. Hofmeyr had earlier testified that, according to the NPA Act, racketeering charges can only be instituted by a special committee within the NPA and when Jiba sent in prosecutors from outside the KwaZulu-Natal jurisdiction to take part in the case, he became concerned. “I would like to first state that there was nothing unlawful about a decision that I made in issuing racketeering charges against Booysen,” said Jiba. Jiba went on to explain that according to Section 21 (E & F) of the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act (POCA) “the intention of the legislation was to allow us to be able to touch those who would never be touched by the law, because they never go to the scene of the crime but have others who go to the scene”. She said while the Organised Crime Unit assessed dockets to determine the merits of the case “these authorisations can only be made by NDPP”. At that time, Jiba was acting NDPP during the Booysen matter. Booysen and 28 of his colleagues were accused of 70 crimes‚ including the murders of 28 people‚ some of them suspected criminals. Due to the high-profile status of the case, Jiba said she formed a team of senior and junior prosecutors from different jurisdictions – Western Cape and North Gauteng – to help in the KZN case. Jiba was subsequently suspended for her actions in the case. “I have never felt so betrayed by my own institution in my entire life as when I was paraded before a court as a criminal merely for exercising discretion,” said Jiba. Masuku asked Jiba to explain her part in the Mdluli case that was dropped in 2011, at a time when she was acting NDPP. According to Jiba, when she was appointed as acting NDPP she requested a brief from Advocate Andrew Chauke, DPP in North Gauteng who was looking into murder charges against Mdluli and also from Mrwebi, who was in charge of the fraud charges. Jiba stated that Mrwebi informed her that there was no evidence at the time against Mdluli as the evidence instead implicated Colonel Heine Barnard (Mdluli’s subordinate). Mrwebi argued that they would lose the case since the evidence did not link Mdluli to the case, there were only suspicions. It was then agreed that the charges would be reinstated later if evidence surfaced in the continuing investigation, said Jiba. Jiba emphatically stated that she had no reason to doubt the competency of Mrwebi in his decision to drop the case because he is experienced. Furthermore, she said she does not agree with those who do not think he is competent. Regarding her decision to withhold the release of the spy tapes during court litigation with the Democratic Alliance to make the tapes public, Jiba testified that she had only continued with the approach that was already adopted by the NPA. According to Jiba, she did not want to get involved in the political battle between the DA and former President Jacob Zuma. Jiba also wanted to clear the air regarding the recent allegations made at the Zondo Commission about her receiving bribery money from Bosasa to provide information and make the cases against the company go away. “I want to state on record I have never been paid any sum of R100,000 by Mr Agrizzi, by Mr Mti, by Watson and all of those names that are mentioned there. I have never been paid any money by anyone,” said Jiba. “My salary comes from the National Prosecuting Authority.” The Mokgoro Inquiry continues tomorrow. DM