Mokgoro inquiry slams Jiba’s lack of integrity in Spy Tapes saga
The red flag was when she defended the dropping of charges against Zuma after he pardoned her husband, says report
Top prosecutor Nomgcobo Jiba showed a lack of integrity when she defended the NPA’s decision to drop charges against Jacob Zuma after the former president pardoned her husband from serving a five-year jail sentence.
This is according to the report by retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro who was appointed to chair an inquiry into whether Jiba and fellow senior prosecutor Lawrence Mrwebi were fit to hold office.
“In light of the fact that a pardon is an act of generosity from the president, Jiba’s proximity to her husband and her involvement in subsequent Zuma-related cases raises concern. While it may be that she had limited participation in Spy Tapes and did not feel that she would be biased in her role, she was the acting NDPP, the most senior official within the NPA, and she deposed to an affidavit in the matter,” the report found.
Mokogoro recommended to President Cyril Ramaphosa that the pair be dismissed, after finding they were not fit for office.
In her 140-page report, Mokgoro details how Jiba’s husband, Sikhumbuzo Booker Nhantsi, was convicted for theft of R193,000 in estate money while practising as an attorney.
Despite being sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, two of which were suspended, he served a mere nine months.
Mokgoro pointed to how Zuma pardoned Jiba’s husband despite advice against it in a memo from the justice department.
“At around the time that Jiba’s husband was granted the pardon by the president, the Zuma/Spy Tapes saga was an ongoing matter. Jiba had just been elevated by the president to the position of DNDPP in December 2010,” the report reads.
Mokgoro stated that Jiba was asked whether she did not deem it prudent to refrain from anything that had to do with Zuma or the Spy Tapes matter to avoid inferences and perceptions of bias, but she refused it.
“In the circumstances, and given the course of action that the NPA chose to follow in Spy Tapes, Jiba had a duty to safeguard the image of the NPA as an institution and to mitigate negative perceptions relating to its independence,” Mokgoro found.
She said a perception of bias was just as bad as actual bias when it came to assessing the impartiality of judicial officers.
“Her deposing to an affidavit in the matter rather than recusing herself, whether or not the decision had already been made by other officials, has a bearing on her integrity,” Mokgoro said.
Jiba has long been accused of been close to Zuma and furthering his interest in the NPA.
Mokgoro also made adverse findings against Jiba regarding her role in the institution of racketeering charges against former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss Johan Booysen and the withdrawal of charges against controversial former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.
“We find that Jiba’s conduct had the effect of seriously damaging public confidence in the NPA.”