One of South Africa’s most senior prosecutors, advocate Willie Hofmeyr, has declared war on his latest boss, Shaun Abrahams, accusing him of misleading the court, sidelining him and aligning himself with a “systematic pattern of improperly protecting” his controversial colleague Nomgcobo Jiba.
Hofmeyr, who until last year headed the successful Asset Forfeiture Unit, says Abrahams launched an “unwarranted and unfounded attack” on his credibility in an affidavit he filed opposing a high court bid by the DA to get Jiba suspended pending an official commission of inquiry into her conduct.
“As an officer of this court, I have a duty to set the record straight even though I am not a respondent.
“For the past 17 years I have been a loyal and dedicated member of the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority).
“I have come across efforts by politicians to manipulate the NPA for their factional purposes which I have strongly opposed and exposed,” he says in his affidavit filed ahead of Tuesday’s expected hearing in the Cape High Court.
In its application, the DA says the failure by President Jacob Zuma to suspend Jiba was “either unlawful or tainted by ulterior motive and bias”.
The party says she has incurred criticism of 12 judges on four Benches in three different matters.
In one, in which Durban High Court judge Trevor Gorven overturned her decision to prosecute KwaZulu-Natal hawks head Johan Booysen for racketeering, she was found to have lied to the court.
The party pointed out that Zuma had also ignored a request from the previous national director of public prosecutions, Mxolisi Nxasana, to suspend her from office.
While Jiba was criminally charged with fraud and perjury relating to the Booysen decision, after Nxasana resigned with a golden handshake, Abrahams was appointed and he dropped the charges and promoted Jiba.
Jiba, with the backing of Abrahams, denies any wrongdoing, saying she always acted in “good faith”.
Some of the court’s findings were against her office and not against her personally “and criticism by a court does not necessarily entail that a person should be disciplined”.
She and Abrahams said she was victimised by Nxasana and Hofmeyr.
Abrahams demoted Hofmeyr last year to the head of the legal affairs division.
Hofmeyr said in his affidavit that even in that position he was being undermined and “a significant number of cases dealing with unethical conduct by Jiba and others” had been removed from him. He said about half the staff no longer reported to him on certain matters.
“I believe this is so because I have made it clear that I would not countenance false or misleading information being placed before court to protect NPA officials.”
In defence of Nxasana, Hofmeyr said he had made a sincere effort to find out the truth, but Jiba had refused to co-operate.
“There was no conspiracy to bring her down. We had senior counsel opinion that she should be suspended pending an inquiry, that she be charged criminally and that the judicial findings against her should be submitted to the General Council of the Bar.
“We also applied our minds to the opinion and the records of the cases available. It is not for me to judge whether she is culpable. Nor do I wish to take sides in this case. We adopted a view in good faith,” he said.
Hofmeyr accuses Abrahams of not disclosing to the court certain documents including a memorandum on a legal opinion that the decision to prosecute her was sound in law.
At the time of the dropping of the charge, Abrahams was on record as saying he had not made the decision, but one of his deputies, Marshall Mokgathle, had.
Hofmeyr has attached e-mails which, he says, show that Abrahams made the decision.
He has also submitted a statement from Terence Joubert, an official in the NPA’s security and risk department, in which he claims to have done investigations for Jiba to get him removed from office
Nxasana has also deposed to an affidavit accusing Abrahams of “viciously attacking” him. Regarding his investigations into Jiba, Nxasana said: “I could not fold my arms and do nothing in light of the scathing judicial criticisms.”
Abrahams did not respond to a request from this newspaper for comment.IOL