Joint Committee meeting receives legal opinion on removal of Adv Jiba and Adv Mrwebi
10 July 2019
A Joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services and the Select Committee on Security and Justice today received a briefing from the Parliamentary Legal Services on the procedure for the consideration of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recommendation for the removal of Adv Nomgcobo Jiba and Adv Lawrence Mrwebi from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The committees were advised that it is not open to Parliament to reopen the inquiry on the fitness of Adv Jiba and Adv Mrwebi to hold office. The inquiry into these circumstances was conducted by the Mokgoro Commission. The President has based his decision on the commission’s report and recommendations. The committee heard that all the committee is required to do, is to scrutinise the exercise of the executive power by the President to test if it is within the confines of the law, and make a decision on whether there are any grounds to restore the two officials into their positions as per section 12 of the NPA Act.
Regarding the recusal of Adv Glynnis Breytenbach, a member of the Portfolio Committee of Justice and Correctional Services who was also a witness in the Mokgoro Inquiry, it was found that it was not necessary for Adv Breytenbach to recuse herself from the meeting as she was not going to be a sole decision-maker in the circumstances of this matter. It was, however, noted that her voluntary recusal may only enhance the perception of the fairness of the processes of the committees.
Legal advisers indicated that the committees must apply their minds to all documents and if they want to call for further evidence, it is to the discretion of the committees to do so. This includes the letter and supporting documentation from the President, explaining the reasons for their removal from office, the Mokgoro Inquiry report and the addenda to the report and the presentations of both Adv Jiba and Adv Mrwebi.
In terms of the time frames for a decision by Parliament, it was advised that according to legislation, Parliament shall within 30 days after the message referred to it has been tabled, or as soon thereafter as is reasonably possible, pass a resolution on the matter. The Chairpersons indicated that they will call a further joint meeting at a later stage, after which a decision will be taken.
Issued by Rajaa Azzakani on behalf of Parliamentary Communications Services, 10 July 2019