Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane says he had to “pick up” a fight to protect his rights when launching his now successful interim court application stopping the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) from probing him over the qualifications saga.
Mabuyane on Tuesday won the first round of a legal battle against President Cyril Ramaphosa and the SIU, which the president authorised to investigate malfeasance at the University of Fort Hare (UFH).
Part of that probe includes the issuing of degrees by the Bhisho campus, where Mabuyane was enrolled.
Mabuyane was accused of fraudulently gaining admission into a Master’s programme, and faking his way into a PhD in public administration.
It is further alleged that Mabuyane was assisted by disgraced UFH professor, Edwin Ijeoma, and his team.
In the first of a two-part judgment that was handed down on Tuesday, Judge Thandi Norman granted Mabuyane’s interdict.
“In the circumstances I grant the following order: The Special Investigating Unit is interdicted from enforcing proclamation 84 of 2022 published in government gazette on 5 August 2022 in so far the SIU has taken steps or intends to take steps that are directed at the applicant, pending the determination of Part B,” said Judge Norman.
In Part B, which is yet to be determined, Mabuyane wants to have the entire SIU probe declared unconstitutional.
Reacting to the judgment, Mabuyane said : “Actually the judgment confirms what we have always believed in.
“Yes, I know it’s Part A, we are still going to Part B where we are looking at merits, and so the advantage with court is that there are no short cuts, you bring all the information you have before the judge and the judge applies his or her mind.
“I was once a president of the SRC at Fort Hare and represented thousands and thousands of students who would have been victimised...
“I had to pick up a fight on this one and actually fight for my rights.
“There are a lot of students who are being victimised in that university every day. There’s serious abuse of power,” he said.
The SIU said it would explore its options.
“The SIU (is) considering legal options following the interim interdict on Fort Hare University investigation.
“The SIU has studied the judgment and is happy that it does not interdict or suspends the Fort Hare University investigation in its entirety.
“We are also optimistic that we will present our case when Part B of this matter is heard.
“The SIU is further encouraged by Paragraph 66 of the judgment which states that: ‘where there is evidence that implicates unlawful conduct in so far as the Master’s degree is concerned there is nothing stopping the SIU from preparing a motivation as it did with the earlier Proclamation and request the President to proclaim that the registration for Master’s degree, too, should be investigated.”
UFH spokesperson, JP Roodt, said: “The University of Fort Hare is committed to see all issues of maladministration and fraud within the institution being dealt with in order to root out corruption.”