Corruption Watch welcomes the president’s decision to dismiss Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). This decision gives effect to the findings of the Mokgoro Commission, which determined that neither were fit and proper to occupy their high offices. Both have been found to have engaged in a myriad of activities that undermined the rule of law, that have grossly impeded the functioning of the NPA and that were responsible for destroying public trust in an institution intended to be a pillar of the criminal justice system.
We note particularly the following extract from the Commission’s report:
In the face of South Africa’s painful history and its continuing struggle with inequality, it is the rule of law that holds every individual to the same standard and, in so doing, recognises the inherent dignity within every individual. Whether one wields power or is of the most vulnerable, the rule of law guarantees equal treatment. Without it, the vision of a constitutional democracy is dead in the water. Appreciating that the NPA plays a critical role in upholding the rule of law, it is crucial that it is seen to be free from all external pressures which might threaten prosecutorial independence.
NPA officials are required to be completely devoted to the rule of law without fail. Our country depends on it. As the sole entity constitutionally mandated to prosecute on behalf of the State, in the face of the scourge of crime, the confidence that the public enjoys in the NPA is what prevents individuals from taking the law into their own hands. This confidence underpins the social contract. It lies in the belief that the State can offer protection where laws are not respected.
Corruption Watch’s executive director, David Lewis, commented: “We are delighted that these blights on our constitutional democracy have been removed from high office. They have brought the NPA into disrepute, they have disgraced their profession and they have grossly abused their considerable powers by protecting criminals and persecuting many innocent people. Much of their conduct has been criminal and we urge the NPA to bring closure to this sordid affair by prioritising the prosecution of both Jiba and Mrwebi.”
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