Former deputy director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba has hit back at President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Mokgoro inquiry into her fitness for office, saying the inquiry’s report contained “numerous elementary but gross errors of judgment”.
Jiba was fired on Thursday by President Cyril Ramaphosa, after an inquiry — chaired by retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro — found her unfit for office on a number of grounds. The inquiry recommended her removal along with the removal of former head of the Special Commercial Crime Unit, Lawrence Mrwebi.
In a media statement on Friday, Jiba took issue with a number of aspects of the Mokgoro report and hinted at court action, saying that “a review application to the High Court will demonstrate” these errors.
Later in her statement, she said she was raising “these preliminary legal points to highlight my intention to clear my name and the legacy of my professional commitment as a prosecutor of over 27 years”.
Jiba said it was “inimical to prosecutorial independence to impugn my decision to authorise the prosecution of Colonel Booysen (“Booysen”), in circumstances where he must answer for the murder of more than twenty (20) black suspects.”
Jiba was referring to the damning findings of the inquiry on her decision to authorise the a racketeering charge against retired KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head, Johan Booysen. The charges related to what was publicly known as the Cato Manor “death squad”, after a series of articles were run in the Sunday Times newspaper, about the alleged extra-judicial killings by the Durban Organised Crime Unit, whose office was in Cato Manor.
Booysen is expected to stand trial for the killings – along with a number of co-accused – in October. However a charge of racketeering – authorised by Jiba – was set aside by the high court as irrational, because the documents upon which Jiba said she had based her decision did not justify a racketeering charge.
The Mokgoro report made damning findings about Jiba related to the racketeering prosecution, but steered clear of the murder charges, saying its finding on Booysen was made “without any suggestion as to the guilt or innocence of Booysen”.
In her statement on Friday, Jiba said: “I point out the race of the suspects because I know that if the roles were reversed and a black policeman had overseen the murder of over twenty (20) white suspects, I would be regarded as a heroine for prosecuting such an accused.”
“Whatever the Enquiry and the President’s conclusions are on my decision (as a prosecutor) regarding Booysen, there are over twenty families in Cato Manor whose children were gunned down in police raids that must still be explained to the public through our court system. The blood of those killed in these raids will continue to seek justice until Booysen takes the stand to explain his role.”
In their report, the Mokgoro panel said that, during her evidence, Jiba had “repeatedly referred to photos of the killings … She testified that the photos were gruesome and she expressed a desire to seek justice for those that were killed”.
“However, what was not clear — and Jiba was unable to explain under cross-examination — was what the relevance of the photos were to whether or not the evidence showed a prima facie case of racketeering,” said the report.
Ramaphosa’s decision must still go to Parliament, which could decide to reverse it. Jiba said: “I look forward to engaging Parliament … I hope that they will see that the Enquiry and the President has been grossly unfair in the manner in which they have handled a matter so important to the principle of prosecutorial independence.”
Meanwhile a statement from National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the removal of Jiba and Mrwebi had “ended months of uncertainty in the NPA” and set “a new path for the NPA”.
The statement said that once the decision was confirmed by Parliament, NPA boss Shamila Batohi would be able to “begin to move ahead on her commitment to rebuild the leadership of the NPA” so that South Africans would have confidence in the NPA’s integrity and capacity.