ConCourt jurisdiction at issue in Jiba matter
Publish date: 15 March 2019
Issue Number: 4659
Diary: Legalbrief Today
A day before a commission of inquiry – chaired by retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro – is expected to hand its report to President Cyril Ramaphosa on their fitness for office in the NPA, the Constitutional Court yesterday had to weigh whether it has jurisdiction to be the final arbiter on suspended NPA heavyweights Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi’s fitness to remain on the roll of advocates, notes Legalbrief. Before the court was an application by the General Council of the Bar (GCB) for leave to appeal an SCA decision. Given the Constitutional Court does not as a rule hear appeals that arise only out of disputes on the interpretation of facts, the main issue was whether there were any constitutional or legal issues which arose out of the SCA judgment on which the appeal was based. The SCA had heard an appeal from Jiba and Mrwebi after the High Court struck them off the roll for the manner in which they had conducted themselves in the litigation that followed the decision to drop the charges against former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, among other things. A Business Day report says the slim majority judgment of the SCA found that Jiba’s actions did not warrant misconduct. While Mrwebi’s actions warranted misconduct, the appeal court said it was not serious enough to call for a striking from the roll. Geoff Budlender SC, in closing arguments for the GCB yesterday, said the issues centred on honesty in the prosecuting authority. This was a key prerequisite in the rule of law and in prosecutorial independence, making the matter a constitutional issue. Norman Arendse SC, for Jiba, argued that the GCBs appeal was merely based on the facts, and that the court therefore had no jurisdiction on the matter. Judgment was reserved.