The Western Cape High Court has dismissed ex-deputy director-general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Siphokazi Ndudane’s urgent application to have the criminal charges against her dropped.
Ndudane faces two counts of contravening section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca), 2004 (Act 12 of 2004).
Ndudane’s legal team argued that she had suffered severe prejudice since her arrest on August 14 and faces dismissal from her current position as head of the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform in the Eastern Cape.
According to Ndudane’s legal team, headed by lawyer Barnabas Xulu, advocate Ntokozo Mjiyako, said their client has suffered prejudice since her “widely publicised arrest”.
According to Mjiyako, Ndudane faces dismissal due to being charged criminally, after the Eastern Cape premier told her he will “have to remove” her. “Ndudane’s arrest was widely publicised and this created the public perception that she was somehow involved in criminal activities and therefore unsuitable to occupy a seat in public office. She is currently an accounting officer and the fact that her arrest has been so widely publicised has created an untenable situation where the premier is considering removing her (from her position) based on her arrest,” said Mjiyako.
Acting Judge John Dickerson probed Mjiyako on official communication that confirmed that Ndudane would be dismissed or that she had been placed on suspension due to the criminal charges.
According to Ndudane, her arrest had already led to her “prolonged leave of absence” which has affected her ability to fulfil her scope of work, which includes international travel –which cannot take place due to her bail conditions.
Representing the respondents in the matter, advocate Madoda Titus opposed the urgent application and said the matter of urgency has “since evaporated” if it is that Ndudane has already been placed on leave of her position.
In her founding affidavit for the urgent application, Ndudane said: “I submit that the allegations against me are false and baseless in both fact and in law. These allegations seem to have been trumped up by malicious individuals who have total disregard for the truth and the fundamental principles enshrined in our Constitution.”
She charged that the investigation and charges against her “constitute a gross abuse of process”, and that at the time when she was the deputy-director general of DAFF, she did not hold a position of authority that legally obligated her to report suspicious transactions.
However, Judge Dickerson described Ndudane’s application for urgency as “vague and anodyne” as it had a “remarkable lack of fact” and further noted that her bid was “bereft of any factual sinews”.
About the court’s decision, Xulu said: “We are disappointed, really. What is expected of whistle-blowers in this country?”