Axing of Jiba, Mrwebi sets a new path for the NPA – Batohi

NPA boss Shamila Batohi said the decision to fire Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi came at a time when the country yearned for accountability and a revived commitment to the rule of law.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announces new NDPP Shamila Batohi at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

PRETORIA/CAPE TOWN - Prosecutions boss Shamila Batohi said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to fire advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi had ended months of uncertainty at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

The president served letters of dismissal on the pair on Thursday night, confirming that he'd accepted the Mokgoro commission's findings and recommendations.

The panel chaired by retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro found the two advocates lacked professional ethics, were untrustworthy and disregarded the courts.

“It (Ramaphosa's decision) has unburdened the NPA from certain issues that have weighed negatively on the organisation’s credibility and reputation,” said advocate Batohi.

"It sets a new path for the NPA."

The Mokgoro commission found Jiba and Mrwebi’s conduct - as found in several high-profile court cases - had brought the organisation into disrepute.

Batohi said the decision came at a time when the country yearned for accountability and a revived commitment to the rule of law.

“As the Mokgoro report reminds us, it is imperative that the NPA performs its critical role independently in accordance with the law and the spirit of the Constitution,” she said.

The president’s decision, once confirmed by Parliament, will enable Batohi to rebuild the leadership of the NPA.

At the same time, Jiba has confirmed she will be appealing the commission’s findings and recommendations.

DA WEIGHS IN

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has welcomed the announcement of the axing of Jiba and Mrwebi.

DA Member of Parliament Glynnis Breytenbach, who left the NPA after Jiba took over as deputy national director, said she felt vindicated that her complaints about Jiba and the NPA had led to her and Mrwebi’s eventual dismissal.

“They abused their positions, their power and the NPA and this is the justice they deserve.”

She said Jiba’s decision to take the commission’s findings on review was a sign of desperation.

“I think the Mokgoro inquiry was very well-run and transparent.”

Breytenbach also testified at the commission where she gave evidence on why certain charges were dropped against certain individuals.

JIBA WANTED SENIOR GOVT POSITION

Ramaphosa’s dismissal letter to Jiba revealed that she asked him to be appointed to a senior position in government, a request he denied.

Addressing Jiba in a letter bearing the presidential seal, Ramaphosa said: “Your request to be appointed in a senior position in the public service cannot be acceded to.”

Ramaphosa cited the findings of dishonesty and Jiba’s disregard for the court as the reason why she was precluded from holding such a position. She lacked the qualities required of public servants, he said.

Meanwhile, Mrwebi asked the president if he could resign considering age, this too was denied.

Ramaphosa said the findings against the two were very serious, however, neither of them offered a response or a reason to reject the commission’s conclusions and recommendations.

He said the commission had dealt extensively with all the evidence that was put before it in a fair and methodical manner.