The conduct of its officials has to be beyond reproach for they are the gatekeepers of our constitution. Society justifiably expects unwavering integrity from law enforcers.
Sadly, this is not the state of some of the bodies which are meant to enforce the rule of law. Many are infested with individuals of dodgy moral character. Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza, who is hounding Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, has had his integrity torn to shreds by a high court judge who described him as lacking integrity and honour. The same judge accused Ntlemeza of lying under oath.
Yesterday, Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi‚ senior executives at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)‚ were struck from the roll of advocates after the court ruled in favour of the application the General Council of the Bar (GCB) brought against the two. The GCB brought the application last year.
The body wanted them removed from the roll of advocates for their handling of three highly political cases. These included the NPA’s decision to drop corruption charges against the former head of the crime intelligence division‚ Richard Mdluli.
The conduct of Jiba and Mrwebi has previously been criticised by the courts in separate judgments. One judge said Mrwebi’s decision to withdraw fraud and corruption charges against Mdluli, was “illegal, irrational, based on irrelevant considerations and material errors of law, and ultimately so unreasonable that no reasonable prosecutor could have taken it”.
Another court previously condemned Jiba’s decision to prosecute KwaZulu-Natal head of the Hawks Johan Booysen. Jiba, who was then acting NDPP, came under fire when the court found she had lied about properly applying her mind to sworn statements before deciding to prosecute Booysen.
It is difficult to see how the pair can continue in their positions, given yesterday’s court’s decision that they be struck from the roll. The NPA Act requires prosecutors from director level to have legal qualifications that would equip them to appear before court and also that they be “fit and proper” for the job.
Clearly, Jiba and Mrwebi are no longer fit and proper to hold office. On its website, the NPA lists professionalism, integrity and credibility among its values.
Clearly, Jiba and Mrwebi do not espouse these values since a number of courts have made adverse findings against them. They have to be removed from their positions as a matter of urgency to salvage whatever still remains of the image and reputation of the NPA.