Receiving bribes from Bosasa would have been “spitting into the graves” of his departed parents, suspended head of the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit Lawrence Mrwebi said on Wednesday.
Mrwebi was testifying before the inquiry, chaired by retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, into whether he and deputy national director Nomgcobo Jiba are fit for the posts at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Mrwebi was responding to bombshell allegations made by Bosasa’s former chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. Agrizzi told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the commission’s chairperson, that Bosasa had paid money for bribes to Mrwebi and Jiba, through former correctional services commissioner Linda Mti.
The alleged bribes were in exchange for Mrwebi and Jiba’s co-operation in stymying the mounting case against Bosasa.
The Mail & Guardian has reported how, according to Agrizzi, R100 000 a month was given to Mti to pay Jiba, codename “Snake”, from about 2009.
R10 000 a month was supposed to go to Mrwebi, codenamed “Snail” and NPA secretary Jackie Lepinka, who worked with Jiba, was alleged to have R20 000 a month paid towards her. The three would help with shutting down the case, as well as share confidential documents concerning the case with Mti, Agrizzi said.
Mrwebi’s counsel Mervyn Rip SC told Mokgoro’s panel that his team had submitted 401 pages of documents to the Mokgoro inquiry, which showed that, in fact, Mrwebi had encouraged the prosecution and sought to assist its progress.
However, Mrwebi testified that it had emerged in 2013 that Lepinka, Jiba’s office manager, had been Mti’s private secretary when he was at the department of correctional services (DCS). Mrwebi said this was raised by the prosecutor running the Bosasa prosecution who brought documents to show this. After this revelation, Lepinka was excluded from meeting about Bosasa, he said. She left the office of the NDPP when Mxolisi Nxasana took over as NDPP in 2014.
Mrwebi said that he had never met former DCS commissioner Linda Mti and knew him only one of the accused in the Bosasa prosecution as the former correctional services DG. “I don’t know him, i have never had any relationship with him of any nature whatsoever. I have no relationship with anybody who knows Mr Mti or is close to Mr Mti. I have never met Mr Mti at all.”
When asked about the alleged bribe, Mwrebi said: “I do not know what to say about that. What I can only say is that either that money was received by somebody for his or her own purposes because it did not reach my account, [or] myself.
Asked whether he had any sort of arrangement with Mr Mti, he explained: “That would be tantamount to spitting into the grave of my departed parents and great grandparents, I would never do that”.