Cape Town - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane maintained on Wednesday that the Section 194 Committee engaged in a “kangaroo court” when it continued with its “committee sessions” on the evidence presented before it.
“My view is that a travesty of justice has continued to happen since the previous, I think, 17 days,” Mkhwebane said in an interview with the public broadcaster.
She was commenting after the committee “paused” its meetings after evidence leaders concluded with presentations to the members on evidence already presented and before the committee.
The inquiry was put on hold after Public Protector South Africa stopped paying Mkhwebane’s legal fees on March 31.
This prompted the committee to proceed with receiving presentations from evidence leaders in the absence of Mkhwebane, who has not briefed her legal team, while some intervention was sought for the funding of her legal costs.
Evidence leaders continued their presentations until Tuesday, after the committee met throughout when Parliament was in a constituency period.
Late on Tuesday afternoon, committee chairperson Qubudile Dyantyi said: “We are going to pause the committee session to empower members.
Next time we resume it will be the resumption of the inquiry.”
He hoped that the presentations by the evidence leaders were not only helpful to the members, but also to those following the inquiry.
Dyantyi explained to the MPs that they would be “on standby” because this week was set aside in Parliament, Next week MP would be on leaves.
The week after that there would be a “stampede” of programmes with interaction with departments on their budgets.
“The moment there is an indication that the button has been switched on, we will indicate that. I am not able to give the date when we resume,” he said.
“It is going to be important that we have that in mind because we will ask for permission and space in order for us to conclude this and be free of this in order to play other roles.”
Dyantyi said “different higher offices” were dealing with Mkhwebane’s legal costs.
“There is a very clear and definite commitment that we must see it through. We must conclude it hence, and it was good we did this exercise so that we can take a week or so out of what we would have to do,” he said.
Moments before the committee concluded its “committee session” on Tuesday, Mkhwebane had taken to Twitter to complain that Parliament had allowed the “illegal and unlawful” continuation of the Section 194 committee hearings.
“As the accused, I am not present.
My legal team is not present. What kangaroo process is this?” she asked.
In an SABC interview, Mkhwebane said the committee had continued with presentations from evidence leaders, and that she had written a letter of demand to stop the proceedings after Dyantyi muted her when she wanted to raise her concerns.
“It is a very wrong, illegal and unlawful process they are following,” she said.
Mkhwebane said the committee did not subject itself to the Constitution and went ahead in contempt of the Constitutional Court, which ruled she should have legal representation.
“How do you proceed without me and my legal representative not being there?
“You allow the evidence leaders to dwell on the merits of the matter.
“Where have you seen that? The evidence leaders should have advised the committee that legally you can’t do that, whether it is in court, arbitration or an inquiry.”
Mkhwebane said National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa -Nqakula refused to intervene, and President Cyril Ramaphosa had not responded.
Mkhwebane noted that the Western Cape High Court dismissed her application in which she sought relief when Dyantyi and DA MP Mike Mileham did not recuse themselves from the committee proceedings.
“They did not deal with the merits.
They said I must wait until the work of the committee is finished and review the report. What kind of justice is that?” she asked.