By Thato Mahlangu
Nomgcobo Jiba’s effort to be reinstated as the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa (NPA) deputy national director was halted by the Western Cape High Court on Friday, 18 October 2019.
The court dismissed Jiba’s application to be reappointed at the NPA, with costs.
Jiba, who was fired on 25 April 2019 by President Cyril Ramaphosa, has been fighting her reinstatement since then.
News24 reported that Jiba had asked the court to order Ramaphosa and the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi to reinstate her “with all associated employment benefits with immediate effect”.
The Mail and Guardian reported that Ramaphosa’s decision to fire Jiba followed a commission, chaired by retired Constitutional Court judge Yvonne Mokgoro. The Mokgoro Commission investigated whether Jiba and the then Special Director of Public Prosecutions Lawrence Mrwebi were fit for their positions. It found that both were unfit and proper to hold their respective offices, according to a statement on the Polity website.
“In the years leading up to the inquiry, Jiba had been roundly criticised in a number of court judgments in politically sensitive cases, with allegations swirling that she was a key figure in the “capture” of the NPA,” reported the Mail and Guardian.
We welcome the court’s decision on Jiba
CW executive director David Lewis said the decision by the High Court to deny Jiba’s reinstatement is welcomed by the organisation.
“We welcome the High Court decision that denied Jiba’s application for reinstatement pending the review that she has initiated of the findings of the Mokgoro Commission, findings which constituted the basis of her dismissal by President Ramaphosa.”
Lewis said Jiba should accept the court’s decision.
“Our earnest advice to Jiba would be to accept this outcome before she humiliates herself further and runs up additional costs,” he said.
Our involvement in NPA leadership muddy matters
An application by Corruption Watch (CW) and Freedom Under Law (FUL) and the Council for Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) resulted in the removal of the then NDPP Mxolisi Nxasana being announced as invalid.
Judge Dunstan Mlambo in the Pretoria High Court said in his December 2017 judgment the settlement agreement that led to the removal of Nxasana was indeed unlawful and that the termination of Nxasana’s appointment was invalid and set aside.
The settlement amounted to more than R17 -million.
CW commented on 8 December 2017 that the judgment also confirmed that the subsequent appointment by former president Jacob Zuma of Shaun Abrahams as NPA head was also invalid and therefore should be set aside. Section 10 of the NPA Act states that the president must appoint the head of the NPA.
“In addition, the court found for CW in deciding that, arising out of his manifest conflicts of interest, the president may not appoint, suspend or remove the NDPP. Accordingly, the court has decided that the appointment to the now vacant post of NDPP is the responsibility of the deputy president,” read a statement on CW’s website.
The court has also ruled unconstitutional those sections of the NPA Act that allowed these unlawful decisions to be made.