South Africa

Mokgoro Inquiry

Hofmeyr grilled on claim that Mrwebi affidavit was aimed at helping Jackie Selebi

Former KZN Scorpions head Lawrence Mrwebi in Johannesburg, South Africa on May 4, 2010. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Herman Verwey); Deputy National Prosecuting Authority head, Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba during a media briefing on August 18, 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Cornel van Heerden).

Willie Hofmeyr has been in the hot seat at the Mokgoro Inquiry testifying to the fitness of suspended NPA bosses Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi to hold office at the prosecuting authority. After a gruelling cross-examination by Jiba’s counsel on Monday regarding his actions to halt the prosecution of Jacob Zuma during the spy tapes saga back in 2009, on Tuesday Hofmeyr was again made to answer for the allegations he made against Mrwebi for his part in the Jackie Selebi case in 2007.

According to Willie Hofmeyr, the former police commissioner, Jackie Selebi nearly escaped justice because of an affidavit that Lawrence Mrwebi wrote in an attempt to assist Selebi to secure an urgent stay of prosecution.

Mrwebi, said Hofmeyr, wrote up an affidavit about a meeting on 25 July 2007 that was held at the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO, aka Scorpions) without the permission from Mokotedi Mpshe, who was the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

In the second week of the inquiry, Hofmeyr offered blistering testimony on the actions of Jiba and Mrwebi to prosecute corruption-busters within the NPA for political reasons. However, when the defence counsel cross-examined him on Monday, at the start of the fourth week of the inquiry, Hofmeyr regretted his part in halting the criminal charges against Jacob Zuma after he had listened to the spy tapes that implicated NPA officials in a conspiracy to assist Thabo Mbeki to get re-elected.

In his initial testimony, Hofmeyr said the affidavit drafted by Mrwebi, divulged discussions within the Scorpions about strategies to countermeasure the rumours that the crime-busting investigative unit would be disbanded and placed under the SAPS.

Using the contents of Mrwebi’s affidavit, Selebi served the NPA with an urgent stay of prosecution in an ongoing corruption case against him. According to Hofmeyr, Mrwebi supported Selebi’s claims that his arrest was a political strategy to ensure the survival of Scorpions.

But countering this narrative on Tuesday, Mrewbi’s counsel, Advocate Aly Ramawele, said his client wrote up the affidavit about the 25 July meeting “pursuant to an investigation that had to ensued regarding the Browse Mole report”. The Browse Mole report was an unofficial intelligence report that alleged that Jacob Zuma, who was not president at that time, planned to covertly overthrow the government with the help of foreign powers.

According to Ramawele, in 2007 the ANC had taken a conference resolution to disband the DSO within the NPA and move it under the SAPS and it was these rumours that made the DSO strategise on how they can remain within the NPA.

Hofmeyr agreed that the DSO suspected that it would probablyv be disbanded but they were also aware that ANC resolutions were not binding to the NPA.

Ramawele contended that during the investigation for the Browse Mole report by the National Security Council, the investigators learnt of the 25 July meeting at the DSO and subsequently requested that Mrwebi make an affidavit.

(Was) that a lawful investigation?” asked Hofmeyr.

According to Hofmeyr, that investigation was not conducted by a law enforcement agency but by the intelligence community. And there was no legal basis for Mrwebi to disclose information from a DSO meeting.

But Ramawele insisted that although Selebi used the affidavit for an application of stay of prosecution, it was evident that Mrwebi did not write it to assist him.

I am not sure what was on his mind, but I think the effect was to help Mr Selebi,” said Hofmeyr.

Are you saying if I make an affidavit in the course of an investigation and someone takes an affidavit without my consent and puts it in a court application to assist him(self), can you still maintain that I am assisting that person?” asked Ramawele.

Hofmeyr responded that Mrwebi was not supposed to write an affidavit in the first place, that it was unlawful to do so and in practice, it was used to assist Selebi in his attempts to escape justice.

Cross-examination of Hofmeyr was completed in Tuesday. The inquiry will resume on Thursday. DM


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