South Africa’s High Court disbarred deputy prosecutions chief Nomgcobo Jiba as an advocate on Thursday, leading to opposition calls for the immediate sacking of a senior legal figure widely seen as an ally of President Jacob Zuma.
In a scathing ruling relating to the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) failure to prosecute a senior police officer, the court said Jiba had “flouted every rule in the fight against crime” and was “no long fit and proper” to be an advocate.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and domestic media have described Jiba as close to Zuma, who is facing the possible reimposition of hundreds of criminal charges relating to an arms deal in the late 1990s.
“If the President is at all serious about restoring integrity to the NPA he must fire her and failing that he should, without delay, make her the subject of a probe that ultimately sees her discharged,” the party said.
The NPA, which decides who gets charged with crimes and who does not, has become a battleground between different factions of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
Zuma, a former ANC intelligence chief, has been accused of filling key positions in the bureaucracy, including the police and justice system, with pliant figures who can help protect him and his associates from censure.
He and his allies dismiss the allegations.
The law overseeing the NPA states that any national director or deputy director must be a “fit and proper person” and possess legal qualifications that entitle him or her to practice in a court of law.A lawyer for Jiba told the ENCA television channel she was planning to appeal. A spokesman for the NPA said it was considering the ruling.