Deputy national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba and the prosecuting authority’s specialised commercial crimes head Lawrence Mrwebi may appeal a court order to have the two struck off the roll of advocates.
Judges Francis Legodi and Wendy Hughes today in the High Court in Pretoria granted the two top advocates leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal against their ruling that the two were not fit to remain on the roll of advocates for their handling of former Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli’s case.
The judges in September last year held that the Jiba and Mrwebi had betrayed their oaths of office and the country. The ruling followed an application by the General Council of the Bar of South Africa.
Jiba and Mrwebi were harshly criticised for opposing Freedom Under Law’s (FUL) successful application to set aside the NPA’s decision to drop charges of murder, kidnapping, fraud and corruption against Mdluli.
The two were placed on special leave after the judgment, which made it clear that a deputy national director who had been removed from the roll of advocates could not continue in that position and that neither of the advocates would be entitled to practise in any courts in South Africa.
The judges described Jiba as “an unrepentant and dishonest person” who had deliberately attempted to mislead the court in the FUL application and had, instead of leading by example, “flouted every rule in the fight against crime”.
They said it was clear she had steadfastly done everything in her power to ensure that the charges against Mdluli were permanently withdrawn despite clear prima facie evidence against him.
They criticised Jiba for ignoring the advice of former senior prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach to reinstate the charges against Mdluli and the opinions of a series of senior advocates who advised against opposing the FUL application.
The judges found that Mrwebi had not been dishonest and sought to mislead the court in the FUL matter by falsely claiming that the Mdluli charges had been withdrawn because of a lack of evidence and in consultation with North Gauteng director of prosecutions Sibongile Mzinyathi.
The judges last year found that Jiba and Mrwebi had brought the prosecuting authority, legal profession and the office of the president into disrepute, and their behaviour had diminished the image of our country and its institutions.