Jiba and Mr­webi get nod to ap­peal their dis­bar­ment

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ZELDA VENTER

DEPUTY Na­tional Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions Nomg­cobo Jiba and Spe­cialised Com­mer­cial Crime Unit head Lawrence Mr­webi were given a life­line yes­ter­day when they re­ceived the go-ahead to ap­peal against be­ing axed as ad­vo­cates.

The pair can thank Pre­to­ria High Court Judge Wendy Hughes for this, as she found the mat­ter was in the pub­lic in­ter­est and that the Supreme Court of Ap­peal (SCA) should take an­other look at the is­sues.

Judge Hughes said both Jiba and Mr­webi said they had, at all times, acted in good faith and were merely ex­er­cis­ing their du­ties un­der the aus­pices of the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity Act when they took sev­eral high-pro­file de­ci­sions.

This in­cluded the de­ci­sion to drop fraud and cor­rup­tion charges against sus­pended crime in­tel­li­gence head Richard Md­luli.

But Judge Fran­cis Le­godi, who, to­gether with Judge Hughes, or­dered that the pair be struck off the roll in Septem­ber, yes­ter­day stuck to his guns and said the pair were not fit and proper per­sons to serve the ad­vo­cates pro­fes­sion.

“I am not con­vinced that there are com­pelling rea­sons to jus­tify the grant­ing of leave to ap­peal… I also do not think that there are rea­son­able prospects of suc­cess on the fac­tual find­ings made re­gard­ing the com­plaints lev­elled against the ap­pli­cants and the sever­ity of the proven facts,” Judge Le­godi said.

He added that he would have re­fused leave to ap­peal if it was not for the con­flict­ing judg­ment by Judge Hughes.

While he made it clear that he did not agree with her judg­ment, the judge said he was com­pelled to grant leave to ap­peal un­der th­ese cir­cum­stances.

Judge Le­godi wrote a scathing judg­ment against the pair in Septem­ber fol­low­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion by the Gen­eral Coun­cil of the Bar to have them dis­barred.

The judge said he couldn’t be­lieve that two of­fi­cers of the court who held top po­si­tions in the NPA could “stoop so low” to pro­tect one in­di­vid­ual (Md­luli).

He added that they did not only bring the pros­e­cut­ing author­ity and the le­gal pro­fes­sion into dis­re­pute, but they also brought the of­fice of the pres­i­dent into dis­re­pute by fail­ing to pros­e­cute Md­luli.

In ask­ing for leave to ap­peal, Jiba and Mr­webi said they were only do­ing their jobs as pub­lic ser­vants.

They pointed out that they were not ad­vo­cates in pri­vate prac­tice and said they felt that they were dealt with in an un­rea­son­ably harsh man­ner and that there were other op­tions avail­able, in­clud­ing sus­pend­ing them for a while.

Judge Le­godi, in his judg­ment yes­ter­day, said the de­ci­sion to strike their names off the roll of ad­vo­cates was mainly based on their han­dling of the Md­luli case, and they were found not to have acted in good faith in a num­ber of com­plaints lev­elled against them.

He said it did not mat­ter whether they were in pri­vate prac­tice or ad­vo­cates in the em­ploy of the NPA.

The fact re­mained they were ad­vo­cates who should not bring the pro­fes­sion into dis­re­pute.

The high­est pos­si­ble de­gree of good faith was re­quired of any of­fi­cer of the court, the judge pointed out.

‘STOOPED LOW’: Nomg­cobo Jiba

‘UNFIT TO HOLD OF­FICE’: Lawrence Mr­webi

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