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Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi
Jiba, Mrwebi to know their fate on Thursday
26 June 2019, 9:51 PM

Axed top prosecutor Nomgcobo Jiba and her colleague, Lawrence Mrwebi will find out if the Constitutional Court supports the move to have them both struck off the roll of advocates.

The General Council of the Bar of South Africa succeeded in removing the pair from the roll in High Court victory. But victory was short-lived when the two successfully appealed the decision.

Now it’s up to the Constitutional Court to determine the final round of a fight for the careers of two disgraced prosecutors.

Jiba fell from grace after she was at the helm of the Prosecuting Authority between 28 December 2011 and 30 August 2013.

She wasn’t alone in her fall from grace. Both she and Mrwebi, who was Special Director of Public Prosecution, were struck from the advocates roll in September 2015.

This after the High Court in Pretoria agreed with Council of the Bar that they were not fit and proper to be advocates.

The axed advocates then took the matter to the Supreme Court of appeal where that ruling was overturned.

Mokgoro Commission

The bid to get them struck off the roll came after the Mokgoro Commission found that they were not fit to hold office at the National Prosecuting Authority.

But they were already suspended in October 2018 before President Cyril Ramaphosa instituted the inquiry into their fitness to hold office.

In February 2019, the Inquiry found that during her capacity as acting head of the NDPP, Jiba compromised her integrity and failed to comply with court processes.

Her prosecutorial overreach in instituting racketeering charges against former KZN Hawks boss, Johan Booysen, took centre stage in the Commission.

The Mokgoro panel also found that Jiba was not frank under oath. They also found Mrwebi, in his capacity as Special Director, acted without integrity in dropping the charges against former Crime Intelligence boss, Richard Mdluli.

Regarding Mrwebi, the Mokgoro Enquiry found that in his capacity as Special Director of Public Prosecutions (SDPP), his “conduct was openly at variance” with what is expected of a person in his position.

Following the Commission’s report, Ramaphosa fired both Jiba and Mrwebi, saying the pair lied to him.

On Thursday, the highest court in the land will declare if it supports the move to end their careers as advocates of the court.

Bill Cosby
Bill Cosby appeals 2018 conviction for Pennsylvania sex attack
26 June 2019, 9:25 PM

Bill Cosby’s lawyers formally appealed his conviction for drugging and sexually attacking a former friend at his home near Philadelphia 15 years ago, citing what they called errors in legal procedure that allowed trial testimony and evidence the defence contends should have been excluded.

Attorneys for the once-beloved American actor and comedian, star of the hit television sitcom “The Cosby Show,” urged the appellate-level Pennsylvania Superior Court to either throw out his 2018 guilty verdict altogether or grant him a new trial.

The 348-page appeal asserts that Cosby, 81, was wrongly convicted on the basis of “flawed, erroneous, and prejudicial rulings” by the trial judge, including the admission of testimony from several accusers other than the woman he was charged with assaulting.

A jury in Norristown, Pennsylvania, found Cosby guilty in April 2018 of drugging and sexually violating former Temple University administrator Andrea Constand, at his home near Philadelphia in 2004.

It marked the first such criminal conviction of a celebrity accused of sexual misconduct since the #MeToo movement that has brought down dozens of powerful, privileged men in American media, politics and business since the autumn of 2017.

In September 2018, trial Judge Steven O’Neill designated Cosby a “sexually violent predator” under state law, requiring Cosby to register as a sex offender for life, and sentenced him to a term of three to ten years in prison.

Cosby, who is married, has insisted all along that any sexual encounters he had were consensual. He was found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.

OTHER ACCUSERS

A major thrust of Cosby’s appeal is the contention that his conviction hinged on testimony from six other women who had accused Cosby of sexual misconduct, “all having occurred approximately 15 or more years before the charged crime.”

The defence asserted that allegations of the other women, five of whom testified in court, should have been inadmissible because they bore too little similarity or connection to the offense for which Cosby was prosecuted.

The appellate brief also said the judge should not have allowed prosecutors to introduce incriminating admissions by Cosby from a sworn statement he had once given in a separate civil case filed by Constand.

That 2005 deposition, in which Cosby acknowledged giving sedatives called Quaaludes to young women for purposes of having sex with them, was cited as a key piece of evidence in the criminal case brought a decade later by District Attorney Kevin Steele.

The defence argued it should have been excluded as irrelevant to the criminal case and a violation of Cosby’s constitutional protection against self-incrimination.

Cosby’s lawyers maintain the criminal case was itself a violation of a 2005 promise by Steele’s predecessor, Bruce Castor, to refrain from prosecuting Cosby if the entertainer agreed to sit for the sworn deposition in Constand’s civil suit.

The two sides in the case are scheduled to present oral arguments over the appeal to the Superior Court on 12 August, according to a court spokesperson.

Kenyan court stops construction of coal power plant
26 June 2019, 8:52 PM

An environment court in Kenya has stopped the construction of a $2 billion coal power plant in Lamu Island, a popular tourist site and a United Nations World Heritage site, on grounds that environment licenses were issued without the participation of the public.

About two-thirds of Kenya’s energy comes from renewable sources, but the East African nation planned the region’s first coal plant to generate about 1 050 Megawatts.

Outside an environment court sitting in Nairobi, environment activists who include residents of Lamu have reason to celebrate. Save Lamu Coalition Co-ordinator, Khadija Shekue, says that they are very happy.

“We are so happy. Everybody is happy. It’s like something has been brought to us from heaven.”

They have been contesting the conduct of an Environment Impact Assessment, which said the project overlooked the importance of the island, home to marine (including five species of endangered turtles) and coral life.

The five-judge bench agreed.

“The failure to hold any meeting from January 2016 to July 2016 and the preparation of a comprehensive study report without the participation of persons most affected, was contemptuous of these people and the residents would have the most to sacrifice should the project proceed and impact found to be more severe,” Judge at the Environment Tribunal in Kenya, Mohammed Balala.

Scuttling plans for East Africa’s first coal power plant, while offering temporary relief to the residents of Lamu.

Save Lamu Coalition’s Mohammed Athman, says they will not allow coal into a unique environment.

“This is a big day for Lamu people, it is a big day for Kenya, for Africa and the world because we must fight the coal generation. We can never, never allow it in our unique environment, which God has blessed us with.”

Shekue, the construction of the coal plant, close to the Indian Ocean, was going to affect resources.

“Especially where they are going to construct the coal is very close to the Indian Ocean. They are going to affect everything because there are very good resources which communities depend on as a source of livelihood.”

The bulk of the project owned by Amu Power a Kenyan, Omani, US and Chinese consortium will be financed by China, which is ironically increasing investments in renewable energy at home.

US cyber-attack on Iran shrouded in digital ‘fog of war’
26 June 2019, 7:14 PM

A claim by US officials that a retaliatory cyber-attack ordered by the White House crippled Iranian missile launching systems will remain almost impossible to substantiate, experts say.

Citing unnamed sources, US media reported last week that the attack launched by the US Cyber Command disabled computers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard unit responsible for shooting down an American surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz on 20 June.

However, Tehran denied the reports, saying “no successful attack has been carried out” by the US against the Islamic republic.

Julien Nocetti, of the French Institute of International Relations, said all sides “bluff” in such cases.

“You must not reveal your play,” he told AFP. “It’s an extremely subtle game of cat and mouse…It is not surprising the Iranians claim (the cyber-attack) failed and we have no way of verifying the statements of either side,” he added.

When it comes to cyber conflict, the “fog of war,” as military theorist Carl von Clausewitz calls it, is as thick as ever.

There are no fighting fronts or observers, and evidence and clues can be easily manipulated when the confrontation plays out within computer servers.

The fact that US officials chose, or were instructed, to quickly leak news about the alleged cyber-attack, points to a desire by President Donald Trump’s administration to prove it did not stand idly by, even after calling off a military strike against Tehran, experts said.

According to Nicolas Arpagian, a cyber-security expert, the reality of the attack and its exact objectives and effectiveness will remain a mystery.

“In this case, Iranian military targets were chosen. If they had been civilian targets, it would have been different,” he told AFP.

“If power plants were targeted, then power would have been cut off. If it were a water company, then people would have lined up to get bottles of water.”

Arpagian said only the Iranians would know the scope of the damage from a cyber-attack, while destruction from missiles would easily be measured.

“Digital weapons allow President Trump to show the world, and especially his supporters, that he is responding (to Iran),” he said.

But the fact that the targets are military means only the Iranians could tell if they have suffered any damage, which they will of course not do.”

On Monday, Iran’s telecommunications minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi acknowledged Tehran has “been facing cyber terrorism, such as Stuxnet and unilateralism, such as sanctions,” but said “no successful attack has been carried out by them, although they are making a lot of effort.”

The Stuxnet virus, discovered in 2010, is believed to have been engineered by Israel and the US to damage nuclear facilities in Iran. Iran at the time accused the US and Israel of using the virus to target its centrifuges used for uranium enrichment.

Loic Guezo, of the French Information Security Club, said such cyber-attacks show that the US “has the resources and technical capabilities to neutralise an enemy’s system.”

“It is the establishment of a balance of power, the equivalent in wars of the future of a parade in (Russia’s) Red Square with hundreds of nuclear warheads,” he told AFP.

Tensions between Iran and the US have been high since Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers.

The accord sought to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for sanctions relief. But they spiked in recent weeks after Washington accused Tehran of being behind a series of attacks on tankers in sensitive Gulf waters. Iran has denied any involvement.

For Nocetti, the cyber-attack is not only a message for the Iranians but for other countries as well.

“It is a message for the rest of the world, Moscow and Beijing will be watching closely,” he said.

Sizakele Mzimela
‘Gigaba sat in silence as Jet Airways demanded access to SAA’s Mumbai route’
26 June 2019, 6:34 PM

The State Capture Commission in Johannesburg has heard that Gupta-linked Jet airways official was already at the SAA offices in possession of agreement documents regarding the Johannesburg-Mumbai route, even before a meeting with the SAA board had taken place.

Former CEO of SAA Sizakele Mzimela says on the 10th of January 2011, they had an unusual meeting with then Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, other officials from the department and representatives from Jet Airways.

She says they waited for more than two hours for Jet Airways officials to arrive.

Mzimela told Justice Zondo she was not made aware that external people were to join the meeting.

“We were waiting for the meeting to start and then I get a call from the office and she tells me that there is a gentleman whose supposedly in possession of an agreement and is demanding for this agreement to be signed. And this agreement pertains to SAA agreeing to terminate their operations on the Mumbai route; and this surprised me because I was a bit confused about what she was talking about.”

Mzimela has also explained to the Commission how she found a meeting with president of Jet Airways, Naresh Goyal, strange and disturbing.

She says Minister Malusi Gigaba sat in silence while the Indian businessman demanded access to SAA’s Mumbai-Johannesburg route.

“So the Jet Airways representatives arrive. The meeting starts and Mr Goyal commences the meeting and speaks about his unhappiness about the delay and, in his view, everyone is wasting time. SAA should already have closed off this route because his airline is better placed to be serving … I then interject and ask the question and say I’m not aware of any decision that had been made,” Mzimela explains.

Mzimela says she was surprised and disappointed that Gigaba and his deputy allowed Goyal to rant and make demands without giving her support. She says the meeting concluded with Gigaba saying SAA and the Gupta-linked Jet Airways should meet and work through a solution to build a working partnership.

Mzimela says a follow-up meeting was held, but nothing came up of it and no agreement was reached.

 

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