FUL Concerned at Corruption at Highest Levels of Namibian Government

5 December 2019

Freedom Under Law (FUL) views with deep concern the implications for the rule of law throughout the region of this week’s revelations of corruption at the highest levels of government in Namibia, as uncovered in the Al Jazeera documentary, Anatomy of a Bribe.

The investigation reflects ruthless misuse of one of Namibia’s important natural resources (its fishing industry is valued at yielding USD 750 million in revenue per year). Using what it presents as detailed banking and other records and hidden camera recordings of secret meetings it provides a shocking example of how corruption-enablers in the region simultaneously impoverish ordinary people, enrich themselves, and strip Africa’s natural resources.

Among those alleged to be involved are a multinational Icelandic fishing company, Namibian ministers, officials and lawyers, front companies as well as Angolan interests. FUL applauds the decisive action taken by Namibia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, its police and prosecuting authority in within days arresting and charging two Ministers of State and senior officials.

Of particular concern to FUL is the crucial enabling role also alleged to have been played by private legal practitioners in making the fraudulent and corrupt schemes possible by acting as conduits and facilitators. FUL calls upon the Namibian Law Society to follow the example of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission in without delay investigating the latter allegations. They concern the former (as Attorney General) chief law officer and thereafter Minister of Justice, as well as a senior Windhoek private law firm. 

So far as FUL is aware the Namibian Law Society has yet to speak a word or take a step, except to note that it has received no formal complaint against any legal practitioner. In the face of such damning allegations against some of the most prominent members of the legal profession in Namibia that seems an entirely inadequate response. Prompt and resolute investigative and disciplinary action by the watchdog of the legal profession, protector of the public and ally of the administration of justice in Namibia, the Law Society of Namibia, is now required.

End of the road for Jiba, Mrwebi as justice committee set to recommend they not be reinstated at NPA

Jan Gerber News 24

26 November 2019

Advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi will not be reinstated at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

On Tuesday, the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services resolved it would not recommend to the National Assembly to have Jiba and Mrwebi reinstated in their positions at the NPA. 

The committee will adopt its report on Wednesday and it will be before the National Assembly next Tuesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa fired Jiba and Mrwebi in April following an inquiry headed by retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, News24 previously reported.

The inquiry found they were not “fit and proper to hold their respective offices”, according to a statement from the Presidency.

The decision had to be referred to Parliament to determine whether Jiba and Mrwebi should be reinstated, not whether they should be fired.

Jiba made the committee’s work easy when she wrote to National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise earlier this month, stating she would not be seeking restoration by Parliament to her position in the NPA. 

This after her court bid to order Ramaphosa and National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi to reinstate her “with all associated employment benefits with immediate effect”, failed.

READ MORE: Nomgcobo Jiba ditches bid to return to NPA

DA MP Werner Horn said it would be a “serious overreach” if they reinstated someone who accepted the president’s decision and findings of the Mokgoro inquiry. The other MPs agreed.

Mrwebi, however, complicated matters. 

He wrote a letter to the committee on October 31, asking for an opportunity to be heard with his legal counsel. In the letter, Mrwebi expressed the view that Ramaphosa was not empowered to institute the inquiry.

In July, he was allowed to provide the committee with a representation, which he did.

Horn dismissed Mrwebi’s argument about why Ramaphosa should not have instituted the inquiry. He said the committee was obliged to accept the findings of the inquiry and it was “not Parliament’s role to act as a type of appeal court”.

ANC MP Hishaam Mohamed said he could not see on what Mrwebi would enlighten the committee.

Committee chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe said Judge Robert Henney, who dismissed Jiba’s application, asked why they have not sought to interdict Ramaphosa’s decision to institute the inquiry.

Only one MP wanted to allow Mrwebi to address the committee – the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

“How can a Parliament of the people say I won’t hear someone who is asking to be heard. This is a Parliament of the people, Mrwebi is the people,” Ndlozi said.

Several MPs pointed out Mrwebi had ample opportunity to communicate with the committee and that their process was fair.

FUL Welcomes Conviction of Richard Mdluli, former head of Crime Intelligence

31 July 2019

Yesterday General Richard Mdluli, former head of Crime Intelligence in the SAPS, was convicted in the High Court, Johannesburg on counts of kidnapping, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault and intimidation.


This follows a series of legal challenges, over several years, by Freedom Under Law to decisions which would have given Gen Mdluli impunity and kept him in his crucial post.  The charges against Gen Mdluli relating to kidnapping and assault of Oupa Ramogiba had initially been withdrawn by prosecutors Chauke and Jiba, while fraud and corruption charges were withdrawn by prosecutor Mrwebi.  Justice Makgoba initially granted Freedom Under Law an urgent order directing that Gen Mdluli stand down from his position pending the determination of a review of that decision.
In doing so, the Court stressed that a constitutional democracy could not tolerate a situation in which one of the country’s key crimefighters continued to perform his daily functions while himself facing serious allegations of criminality. That Gen Mdluli had not been finally convicted of these grave crimes was not the issue.


In due course Freedom Under Law’s review of the prosecutors’ decision too was upheld.


Gen Mdluli’s trial ensued, and has extended over a lengthy period, culminating in yesterday’s conviction by Justice Mokgatlheng.
While it is unfortunate that the charges of fraud and corruption were not reinstated by the NPA, it is an important vindication of the rule of law that one of South Africa’s most senior police officers has been held accountable for some of the crimes he has committed.


It is a cause for reflection that had Freedom Under Law, one of a group of civil society watchdogs active in this way, not challenged the decisions to withdraw charges and to keep Gen Mdluli at his desk, his impunity would have been assured.

Public Protector’s Report on Early Retirement an Attempt to Reheat a Long Cold Dish, says FUL

25 May 2019 

Freedom Under Law (FUL) is dismayed but not surprised to learn of the Public Protector’s findings in respect of Mr Ivan Pillay’s early retirement and Minister Pravin Gordhan’s authorisation of the retirement. The matters canvassed in the Public Protector’s report are the exact same matters as those which frame one of the most notorious episodes in the National Prosecuting Authority’s history – the decision to charge and then ultimately ignominiously withdraw charges against Gordhan, Pillay and former SARS Commissioner, Oupa Magashula.

This attempt to reheat a long cold dish and serve it up to the public as evidence of wrongdoing is on its own alarming. But that the Public Protector releases her report a mere two days after receiving responses from the implicated parties – failing to meaningfully engage those responses – makes a mockery of the most basic tenets of justice.

She does so in a week in which a court has found in respect of another of her investigations that: “the Public Protector did nothing to assure the public that she kept an open and enquiring mind and that she discovered, or at least attempted to discover the truth.”

With this her latest report, the Public Protector yet again makes no pretence of what she is about.   

FUL Welcomes Decision to Remove Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi

26 April 2019

Freedom Under Law (FUL) believes that the decision of the President to remove Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi from their positions at the National Prosecuting Authority, in keeping with the recommendations contained in the report issued by the Mokgoro Enquiry, offers an opportunity for restoration of public confidence and trust in that embattled institution.

Under the leadership of new National Director of Public Prosecution (NDPP) Shamila Batohi, the NPA can today begin in earnest a process of rebuilding the institution, free of the corrupting influences of Ms Jiba and Mr Mrwebi. As the report of the Mokgoro Enquiry makes clear, not only were Ms Jiba and Mr Mrwebi found unfit to hold office but showed themselves not to have the integrity, conscientiousness and scrupulous honesty required of such senior officials in an institution so important to our constitutional democracy. 

As is evident from the report and other information publicly disclosed about the workings of the NPA during Ms Jiba and Mr Mrwebi’s time there, they were not the only officials responsible for wrongdoing. But they were central to the wrongdoing and in sidelining and in several instances persecuting those employees within the NPA intent on performing their constitutional operations, Jiba and Mrwebi’s corrupting influence was magnified. Freed of their presence, decent people in the NPA may now get on with their jobs and the tasks required by our Constitution.

FUL Concerned at Reports of Mass Surveillance of Law-Abiding Persons, Including its CEO

12 March 2019

According to a news report yesterday, the State Security Agency under the command of former President Zuma subjected numbers of private individuals to unlawful surveillance. These included Nicole Fritz, the Executive Officer of Freedom Under Law.


The suggestion that either Ms Fritz or FUL warranted surveillance is not only preposterous but profoundly disturbing. The pursuit of a perfectly law-abiding person and an equally respectable Rule of Law agency reflects an alarming level of paranoia among our securocrats. 


It also reveals a frightening lack of judgment and common-sense on the part of those entrusted with our national security if they cannot recognise the lawful activities of public-interest agencies such as Freedom Under Law. Beside all else, it represents an unforgivable wastage of resources.
Much more ominously, it reveals a deep-seated contempt for the Constitution and the human rights it guarantees.