South Africa

Mokgoro Inquiry

Corruption-busters targeted in Jiba era, says Willie Hofmeyr

Corruption-busters targeted in Jiba era, says Willie Hofmeyr
Willie Hofmeyer gives evidence at the National Prosecuting Authority inquiry into Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi, 31 January 2019. Screenshot: Youtube/SABC

Witness testimony at the Mokgoro Inquiry fingers Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi for attempts to derail investigations into senior ANC personalities including the late national police commissioner Jackie Selebi and KwaZulu-Natal MECs Peggy Nkonyeni and Mike Mabuyakhulu.

Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Willie Hofmeyr has laid bare attempts by Nomgcobo Jiba to influence and derail investigations into high profile ANC personalities.

Testifying at the Mokgoro Inquiry, Hofmeyr said he initially viewed the suspended deputy NDPP Jiba’s appointment as a “breath of fresh air” and described her as a “competent manager”.

But, he said, a “very concerning development trend that emerged under Jiba, and was almost institutionalised by Abrahams, was to prosecute those who were perceived as obstacles to corruption and the capture of the state. This included particularly persons in law enforcement, later, such as (Glynnis) Breytenbach”.

The inquiry has been set up to determine the fitness of Jiba and suspended director of the specialised commercial crimes unit, Lawrence Mrwebi, to hold office at the prosecuting authority.

According to Hofmeyr, the Selebi investigation in 2008 precipitated a major disruption in the NPA and saw Jiba and Mrwebi play a part in frustrating the investigation and prosecution.

Hofmeyr states in his affidavit to the inquiry that both senior advocates worked closely with Selebi and some members of the SAPS to arrest lead advocate in the case, Gerrie Nel, in order to derail Selebi’s prosecution.

Jiba, Hofmeyr said, also had a personal score to settle with Nel for the prosecution of her husband Booker Nthantsi and ultimately blamed Nel for her “husband’s troubles”.

Her dislike may have played a part in her role in securing Nel’s arrest, but there may have also been political motivations/interference as they were assisting the police,” Hofmeyr testified.

Nel, Hofmeyr testified, was arrested and held without bail. Charges were ultimately withdrawn against him.

Selebi was later convicted for bribery in 2010 and sentenced to 15 years’ jail but was released on medical parole. He died in 2015.

Another case which drew undue pressure and influence was the prosecution of KwaZulu-Natal MECs Peggy Nkonyani and Mike Mabuyankulu.

When then KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen launched an investigation into corruption involving Nkonyani and Mabuyankulu, there were attempts to remove him from office so that a more “pliable acting head” would ensure the case disappeared, Hofmeyr said.

He testified that when Jiba was acting NDPP she told prosecutors in KwaZulu-Natal to establish a case (against Booysen) as a matter of urgency because of “pressure”.

Hofmeyr mentioned the failed prosecutions of former Hawks head Anwa Dramat, former Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya and Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride as further examples of Jiba’s attempts to influence prosecutions.

There was an increasing tendency in the NPA to use power to prosecute people who were seen to be a problem… The broader concern was that people in the NPA were collaborating with people outside of the NPA to make sure that the prosecution did not happen,” said Hofmeyr.

Hofmeyr, who as a Member of Parliament played a key role in drafting the NPA Act 32 of 1998, said that since its inception, the NPA had never enjoyed stability of leadership, having had five full-time national directors, of whom only one has ever served a full term — two were removed by the president, two removed by the courts and one resigned.

This lack of continuity in the prosecuting authority, said Hofmeyr, had compromised the institution’s ability to effectively carry out its work. DM


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