Masutha relieved to avoid prolonged Jiba battle

Minister Masutha says he believes it was best for the matter to be handled by the General Council of the Bar.

FILE: Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Justice Minister Michael Masutha says he's relieved that the matter involving the conduct of deputy National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Nomgcobo Jiba has been dealt with in a manner that's avoided a multitude of legal battles.

The department has been accused of not taking action when it was first alerted to allegations of misconduct against Jiba and Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit head Lawrence Mrwebi, who were yesterday struck off the roll of advocates.

But Masutha says that at the time these allegations were brought forward by former NPA head Mxolisi Nxasana, there were already processes underway.

The minister says he believes it was best for the matter to be handled by the General Council of the Bar instead of through the use of multiple processes all serving the same purpose.

"To then, on top of all those processes, to also initiate an inquiry one of which would have been ultimately aimed at establishing the very same issue. We felt that it would be better that we stagger the process a bit."

LISTEN: Minister Michale Masutha on Jiba and Mrwebi struck off the advocates roll

However, Nxasana has accused Masutha of being reluctant to intervene.

Nxasana says he was the one who approached the council for intervention after he failed to convince government to step in.

"I then decided to refer the matter to the body that's entrusted with the administration of advocates, which is judiciary, to look into the conduct of these officials."

PRESIDENCY FAILED TO INTERVENE

Nxasana says while he feels vindicated by the decision to strike Jiba off the roll of advocates, he finds it disappointing that the Presidency and Justice Department failed to act when he first raised his concerns.

Nxasana has described government's apparent reluctance to intervene as sad.

"The president said that she was advised by the Minister of Justice that there's no jurisprudential evidence that justified the suspension of Nomgcobo Jiba at the time."

LISTEN: Former NPA head Mxolisi Nxsana told Zuma to fire Jiba & Mrwebi

But Masutha says there were processes underway at the time.

"There were other processes that were underway. The then CE of the organisation had requested a retired judge of the Constitutional Court to inquire into this matter."

Masutha says he will urgently consult with President Jacob Zuma on the status of Jiba following a scathing High Court judgment against her.

He says he has already met with prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams to discuss the judgment against Jiba.

"We have agreed on a process in the immediate that we'll be following which will include consultation with the parties concerned having looked at aspects of the law that will be most pertinent in this regard."

He says the matter also requires consultations with President Jacob Zuma.

"That will also require urgent consultation with the president, within the specific functions that are entrusted under the Constitution and the law under matters of this nature."

Masutha declined to be drawn on whether it would be in the best interest of the NPA for Jiba to step down pending the conclusion of an appeal.