NPA CHARGES TOP BRASS
Three of the National Prosecuting Authority’s most senior leaders have been criminally charged with perjury.
City Press can today reveal that former acting National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Nomgcobo Jiba, Special Commercialised Crimes Unit head Lawrence Mrwebi and Provincial Director of Prosecutions in Pretoria Sibongile Mzinyathi have had criminal charges of perjury laid against them.
The charges follow damning court findings made about the NPA’s leadership last year in the case in which rights group Freedom Under Law successfully applied to overturn the dropping of criminal charges against suspended police crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
It has also emerged that National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Mxolisi Nxasana has written to President Jacob Zuma asking him to suspend Jiba, Mrwebi and Mzinyathi, pending inquiries into their fitness to hold office.
Mdluli – who famously pledged his support for Zuma ahead of the ANC’s Mangaung elective conference if Zuma “assisted” him with his suspension – will tomorrow appear in the Palm Ridge Magistrates’ Court on charges including kidnapping, assault and intimidation.
The case relates to the circumstances surrounding the 1998 murder of Oupa Ramokgibe and was one of the sets of criminal charges that Judge John Murphy in the High Court recently ordered the NPA to reinstate against Mdluli. This order was confirmed by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA).
Nathi Mncube, spokesperson for the NPA, confirmed that a criminal complaint of perjury had been laid against Jiba, Mrebi and Mzinyathi.
He also confirmed that Mdluli would tomorrow make his “first appearance” in court, but he declined to comment further.
Asked about the request for the suspension of Jiba, Mrwebi and Mzinyathi, Mthunzi Mhaga, spokesperson for Justice Minister Michael Masutha, confirmed to City Press that Masutha had received correspondence from a senior NPA official on July 29.
“However, we are not at liberty to give details or comment on contents thereof as we consider that to be an internal matter,” said Mhaga.
Nxasana, who is also facing an inquiry into his fitness to hold office, has been asked by Zuma why he should not be suspended pending the inquiry.
Yesterday Beeld reported that complaints were also laid against Jiba, Mzinyathi and Mrwebi at the Bar. This, along with the suspension that Nxasana has asked Zuma for and the criminal charge of perjury, was contained in a legal opinion Nxasana obtained from senior lawyer Pat Ellis.
In the Freedom Under Law matter, Judge Murphy ruled that the decision to withdraw fraud and corruption charges against Mdluli, taken by Mrwebi in February last year, was “illegal, irrational, based on irrelevant considerations and material errors of law, and ultimately so unreasonable that no reasonable prosecutor could have taken it”.
Murphy ruled that Mrwebi’s subsequent explanation that he had only provisionally withdrawn charges against Mdluli was “probably invented”.
The SCA confirmed that this directly contradicted what Mzinyathi and Mrwebi had said under oath in the disciplinary hearing of former prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach. And Jiba had claimed under oath that this decision was never brought to her attention, but the SCA ruled that the matter was brought to Jiba’s attention by Breytenbach in a 200-page memorandum.