#MokgoroInquiry: Decision to not release spy tapes was a collective one - Jiba’s lawyer argues

The decision to not release tapes/transcripts in the "spy tapes" saga was a collective one, the Mokgoro Inquiry heard on Monday.

The inquiry has been tasked with establishing whether two of the country's most senior prosecutors - suspended deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Nomgcobo Jiba  and special director of public prosecutions Lawrence Mrwebi - are fit for office.

Advocate Norman Arendse, SC, who represents Jiba, put it to deputy NDPP Willie Hofmeyr that his original submission indicated that he played a collective role in the decision-making at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). This would have included the call to not release the tapes/transcripts in the "spy tapes" saga.

"Let's talk about the National Prosecuting Authority as an institution. You talked about meetings where you would discuss things as a collective. Is that right?" Arendse asked during cross-examination.

While Hofmeyr agreed that this was the case, he submitted that there was no guarantee that his view would persuade the NPA head.

"When we had meetings in the National Prosecuting Authority there were sometimes agreements and disagreements. The NPA is not like a political group. You can [give] your input or views, but you cannot instruct the boss to do a certain thing. You can only try and persuade.

"I was generally in favour of releasing the recordings to the other side. I felt the judgment was correct," Hofmeyr responded.

Hofmeyr was referring to the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment that instructed the NPA to comply with a previous order to release spy tapes allegedly revealing collusion between former head of the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) Leonard McCarthy, and former NPA head Bulelani Ngcuka to recharge former president Jacob Zuma with corruption and fraud just before the ANC's 2007 Polokwane conference. At that conference, Zuma was elected the new leader of the party.

ALSO READ: Zuma spy tapes: Nomgcobo Jiba gets tongue lashing

The Democratic Alliance went to court and challenged former NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe's 2009 decision to set aside the prosecution of Zuma. The party also requested the tapes/transcript.

ALSO READ: DA: Jiba must be removed

The witness does not want to take any responsibility - Arendse

"You do not want to take a responsibility for the decision taken as a group because you had an opposing view that the tapes should be released," Arendse asked.

"At the end of the day, the decision was that of the NDPP," Hofmeyr replied.

The decision was harshly criticised by the SCA.

"This conduct is not worthy of the office of the NDPP. Such conduct undermines the esteem in which the office of the NDPP ought to be held by the citizenry of this country," the SCA said in its judgment.

Hofmeyr stated that although he had sympathy for Jiba regarding the scathing judgment, he felt that the SCA was correct.

"What about the fact that she did not take the decision on her own on the release of the spy tapes?" Arendse asked.

"I think when you're the boss and you motivate for a particular decision, you are the one in the firing line who has to take responsibility for it," Hofmeyr added.

Hofmeyr's cross-examination continues on Tuesday.