Public protector’s office defends decision to pull out of Bredell case

Local Government MEC Anton Bredell.

Local Government MEC Anton Bredell.

Published Nov 30, 2023


The Office of the Public Protector of South Africa (PPSA) decided not to defend a review application pertaining to Local Government MEC Anton Bredell’s breaching of the Code of Ethics as it would be taking a risk in relation to another possible adverse finding with a costs order.

GOOD Party’s Brett Herron claimed the PPSA had “budgetary constraints” and said this was the reason why the PPSA did not oppose Premier Alan Winde and Bredell’s challenge of the adverse findings.

However, the PPSA confirmed to the “Cape Times” that while they were confident with the findings they had made, a possible cost order “swayed the opinion in favour of erring on the side of caution”.

The PPSA found Bredell guilty of breaching the Code of Ethics in October 2021 when he told the parliamentary portfolio committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) in June 2020 that a political agreement between Bredell and DA councillors, in the Oudtshoorn Municipality, to place the council under the administration of the province was legal.

In April 2022, Winde said he would not discipline Bredell, as advised by the PPSA, and that he had instead taken the report on Bredell’s breach of the executive ethics code on review.

PP spokesperson Ndili Msoki said: “Numerous legal considerations were considered in deciding to withdraw opposition to the matter.

Upon reassessment of the matter and the state of the pleadings at the time, concerns were identified by the legal team that exposed the PPSA to a risk.

Considering the procedural challenges pertaining to inter alia, the obligation to give implicated and affected persons a right of reply and/or a fair hearing during the investigation process, the team was of the view that the prospects of success were minimal.

“While the team was confident in defending the substantive merits of the investigation and its findings, the risk of another adverse finding with a cost order swayed the opinion in favour of erring on the side of caution and withdrawing opposition,” said Msoki.

Herron said Winde and Bredell took the public protector’s findings on review although the evidence against them was clear cut.

“They were effectively following the well-worn path of certain ANC leaders, who rely on delays, obfuscation and legal technicalities to avoid being held accountable for their misdeeds. Such conduct – roundly criticised by their party, the DA – is known as the Stalingrad defence.

“This week it emerged that their review application had fallen through the proverbial cracks. The public protector would not be opposing their review application. We understand the office has drastically cut back on opposing review applications because it doesn’t have enough money,” said Herron.

In response, Bredell said: “Herron chose not to oppose the matter when he had the opportunity to do so. The matter was heard by Judge Savage on an unopposed basis and both the Bredell and Winde reports were set aside and substituted with a decision dismissing the complaints Herron made to the public protector. Whilst it is disappointing that frivolous complaints lodged by Herron led to the waste of taxpayer money, it should be celebrated that the rule of law was ultimately upheld.”

Cape Times