The inquiry into National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) advocates Nomgcobo “Snake” Jiba and Lawrence “Snail” Mrwebi’s fitness to hold office began yesterday under the shadow of allegations by Bosasa whistleblower Angelo Agrizzi that they had been bribed for years.
“Snake” and “Snail” are the codewords assigned by former national commissioner of correctional services Linda Mti to Jiba and Mrwebi in 2009, Agrizzi has told the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
He claimed Mti met weekly with Jiba and Mrwebi, who would provide updates of the investigation into Bosasa. In return, Jiba would be paid R100,000 a month and Mrwebi R10,000, he has alleged.
Jackie Lepinka, alleged to be working with Jiba and Mwrebi at the NPA, was alleged to have received R20,000 a month.
“Lawrence Mrwebi, Nomgcobo Jiba and Jackie Lepinka continued to receive these monthly payments until such time as I left the employment of Bosasa,” Agrizzi said.
In return for the cash, Mti gave Agrizzi documents he claimed came from Jiba, Mrwebi or Lepinka which were used to subvert the Bosasa investigation.
“On May 8, 2015, when it became apparent through media reports that Jiba and Mrwebi were compromised, I accompanied [Bosasa boss] Gavin Watson to a meeting with Mti at his house,” Agrizzi said. “During this meeting, Gavin Watson emphasised to Mti that Jiba was compromised and Bosasa was at risk. He made proposals as to how this should be handled.”
Agrizzi said he had made a recording of the discussion, which he had handed to the commission as evidence.
It’s heady stuff, but heading the inquiry is former Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, who was initially operating under the assumption the inquiry would focus on the many disparaging remarks made by numerous courts against Jiba and Mrwebi’s apparently flimsy grasp on SA law.
“The inquiry is not a commission as contemplated in the Commissions Act, a disciplinary hearing or a trial,” Mokgoro said when gazetting the inquiry.
“The inquiry is not determining whether anyone should face criminal prosecution, nor whether anyone is civilly liable for any breach of the law.”
This didn’t wash with forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan, who has a long-running feud with the NPA, going back to when he was investigating Jackie Selebi for corruption.
“If the inquiry does not investigate Jiba’s role in state capture, then it won’t have done its job,” O’Sullivan has typically snarled at everyone, including evidence leader advocate Nazreen Bawa, in one of his shotgun e-mails.
“I note that paragraphs three and four [of the terms of reference] do not limit the areas to be looked into,” he added. “If the inquiry does not look into these matters, I will launch an application to compel.”
Yesterday, Dr Silas Ramaite and advocate Stephanus Jordan, both former senior NPA employees, told the inquiry how NPA operations worked.
Chris Macadam, NPA senior deputy director of public prosecution, is expected to testify today.
The enquiry is to furnish a report to President Cyril Ramaphosa by March 9.