NEWS
11/07/2018 06:40 SAST | Updated 11/07/2018 06:40 SAST

Jiba, Mrwebi Returned To The Roll Of Advocates... But May Still Face Disciplinary Action

Lawrence Mrwebi and Nomgcobo Jiba can return to work for now, but they must still appeal a judgment which says they must face disciplinary charges.

National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams (R) walks past his deputy Adv Nomgcobo Jiba as he leaves at the end of a media briefing in Pretoria, South Africa, May 23, 2016.
Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters
National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams (R) walks past his deputy Adv Nomgcobo Jiba as he leaves at the end of a media briefing in Pretoria, South Africa, May 23, 2016.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, the second-in-command at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Nomgcobo Jiba, and former special director of public prosecutions, Lawrence Mrwebi, have been cleared to return to work. But their names have not yet been cleared, as they must still appeal a judgment ordering the president to take disciplinary action against them, Times Select reported.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned a judgment striking Joba and former special director of public prosecutions, Lawrence Mrwebi off the roll of advocates. The NPA reportedly says there is now nothing stopping Jiba and Mrwebi from returning to work.

But both advocates face another legal hurdle, after the North Gauteng High Court reportedly ordered former president Jacob Zuma to institute disciplinary inquiries into Jiba and Mrwebi into their fitness to hold office in 2017, and to suspend them pending the outcome of those inquiries.

That order was reportedly suspended pending the outcome of their appeal against the judgment striking them from the roll, which has now finished. They are reportedly appealing that judgment.

According to News24, Judge Francis Legodi of the North Gauteng High Court agreed with the General Council of the Bar of SA, who argued that the two were not fit and proper for their jobs.

This was because of their handling of the charges against former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli, and the dropping of murder and fraud charges against him.

While the SCA on Tuesday found that their sins were not enough to justify striking them off of the roll of advocates, the court said it was possible that it was enough to have Jiba, at least, removed from her position at the NPA.

According to Times Select, the judgment also said the two could be considered incompetent.

The SCA bench was split on the matter, but the majority found that there were also legal opinions by two senior state prosecutors that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Mdluli and fraud and corruption charges.

But, the judgment said,

"Perhaps one may infer some form of incompetence with regard to her duties, which may be a ground to remove her from being the DNDPP [deputy national director of public prosecutions] but not sufficient enough to be removed from the roll of advocates."

Jiba's problems are reportedly compounded by another judgment, also from the North Gauteng High Court, which ruled that President Cyril Ramaphosa must institute disciplinary proceedings against her.

The court reportedly found that the "adverse findings and comments" made by Jiba and Mrwebi in four judgments had "a direct effect on and erodes the public confidence in the NPA as a law enforcement agency."

Part of the reason why the Bar Council approached the court to have Jiba especially struck from the roll was another court finding that she had lied under oath in the Mdluli matter.

According to the Daily Maverick, this was one of the reasons why two members of the bench at the SCA on Tuesday disagreed with the majority.

In the dissenting judgment, judges Christiaan van der Merwe and Eric Leach reportedly said,

"First, they demonstrate a serious lack of appreciation or disregard of the duty of an advocate to be of assistance to the court and to uphold the administration of justice. The fact that Ms Jiba was a litigant in official capacity in these matters is no excuse. That was all the more reason for her to conduct the litigation with the utmost trustworthiness and integrity. Second, in all three matters, Ms Jiba gave untruthful evidence under oath and thus displayed dishonesty and a lack of integrity...

"In our system of justice the courts should be able to rely absolutely on the word of practitioners, and for that reason there is a serious objection to allowing a practitioner who is untruthful, and deceives or attempts to deceive a court, to continue in practice."