Nomgcobo Jiba. Picture: SOWETAN
Nomgcobo Jiba. Picture: SOWETAN

DEPUTY national prosecutions head Nomgcobo Jiba will appeal against the judgment that struck her off the roll of advocates, her lawyer said on Thursday.

Judge Francis Legodi on Thursday ruled in favour of the General Council of the Bar’s application to the High Court in Pretoria that Jiba and her colleague, Commercial Crimes Unit head Lawrence Mrwebi, were not fit and proper to be members of the Bar.

North Gauteng director of public prosecutions Sibongile Mzinyathi was entirely cleared by the court.

To remain in their present posts, both Jiba and Mrwebi must "possess legal qualifications that would entitle him or her to practise in all courts in the republic" — in other words, be either an advocate or an attorney, according to the NPA Act.

The embattled deputy national director of public prosecutions has been fending off calls for her to be removed from her post after she was scathingly rebuked in a number of court judgments.

An appeal will keep her in her position for the time being. But if the appeal courts agree with the order of the High Court in Pretoria, she would be disqualified from her post at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

While the judicial criticisms had been made in three court cases, the High Court in Pretoria’s decision to strike Jiba and Mrwebi off the roll was due to one of the cases, related to the decision to drop criminal charges against former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

The court said Jiba and Mrwebi had been determined to let Mdluli off the hook, despite a prima facie case and in the face of contrary legal advice.

"I cannot believe that two officers of the court [advocates] who hold such high positions in the prosecuting authority will stoop so low for the protection and defence of one individual who had been implicated in serious offences," said Legodi.

The court found Jiba and Mrwebi wanting both in respect of the decision to drop corruption charges against Mdluli and in how they had handled the litigation with nongovernmental organisation Freedom Under Law (FUL), which went to court to challenge the dropping of charges.

Legodi described how their handling of the FUL case had led to three consecutive legal teams "all withdrawing within a short space of time, one after the other".

"Jiba was steadfast to do everything in her power to ensure that the charges against Mdluli were permanently withdrawn.

"This was despite the prima facie evidence against Mdluli," said the judge.

She had also ignored the "clearly relevant" input of Glynnis Breytenbach, who had been involved in the prosecution of Mdluli, knowing that the law required her to consider it, said the judge. "Her motivation in adopting the attitude she did must be found in her willingness to protect Mdluli by all means."

Mrwebi was also not spared by the judge, who said he had given dishonest evidence at the disciplinary proceedings against Breytenbach.