NPA vulnerable to executive and political interference‚ says Yvonne Mokgoro

Mokgoro Inquiry has recommended that suspended deputy National Prosecuting Authority head advocate Nomgcobo Jiba be fired.
Mokgoro Inquiry has recommended that suspended deputy National Prosecuting Authority head advocate Nomgcobo Jiba be fired.
Image: Cornel van Heerden/ Gallo Images

The recent history of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) demonstrates that it may be vulnerable to executive and political interference.

This is according to retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro who recommended to President Cyril Ramaphosa that top prosecutors Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi be fired.

"Clandestine decision-making and impunity characterised the pre-democratic period‚ but has absolutely no place rearing its ugly head in this constitutional democracy‚" she wrote.

Mokgoro and two panel members were appointed by Ramaphosa to determine whether Jiba and Mrwebi were fit to hold top office in the NPA.

In the report made public this week‚ she found that the pair were unfit to be a deputy national director of public prosecutions and special director of public prosecutions.

Jiba and Mrwebi said they had not heard from Ramaphosa since being asked to respond to the report two weeks ago.

Jiba's lawyer Zola Majavu said they would not engage on the report until they hear from the president.

Mokgoro made multiple damning findings against Jiba and Mrwebi‚ including that they acted against the law and enabled the independence of the NPA to be compromised.

At the end of the report‚ the retired justice focused on the ailing NPA‚ saying that over the years the prosecuting authority had been beleaguered by allegations of malfeasance and political interference.

"Serious measures must be taken against politicians and members of the executive and other private persons/entities who seek to influence unduly the NPA in the performance of its functions‚" said the report.

Mokgoro warned that without equality before the law‚ "the vision of a constitutional democracy is dead in the water".

"Where officials are mired in controversy and are consistently being taken on review for irrational decision-making‚ and being found wanting by the courts‚ it damages the public confidence. The NPA must instil a strong sense of constitutional values and belief in the rule of law.

"When these values are internalised and fought for vociferously from within the NPA‚ only then will the institution enjoy the confidence of the citizenry and become the prosecuting authority that South Africans deserve‚" she wrote.

The findings in the report against Jiba and Mrwebi included a lack of integrity‚ dishonesty‚ irreverence of the courts and failing to act without fear‚ favour or prejudice.

"We find that Jiba's conduct had the effect of seriously damaging public confidence in the NPA‚" Mokgoro found.

Turning to Mrwebi‚ Mokgoro found that his decision to withdraw fraud charges against Mdluli was against the NPA Act and found that he did not act with integrity‚ among other findings.

Mokgoro said the NPA must ensure that it communicated effectively with the public because it acted in its interest.

"This must not be understood to mean that members of the NPA should play to the whims of popular opinion‚ but rather that they have a duty to perform their work with integrity‚ conscientiousness and accountability."

Source: TMG Digital.

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