Protector Busi Mkhwebane under fire for altered Vrede report. FILE PHOTO: ANA
Public Protector advocate Busi Mkhwebane is facing battles on two fronts. She is being hauled to court by the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), and the DA has called for the issue of her removal to be discussed in Parliament.

This comes after allegations that she altered a provisional report into the controversial Vrede dairy farm project, allegedly in a bid to shield politicians and officials implicated in the project.

It is alleged that the project was used to siphon about R200 million from the Department of Agriculture in the Free State. The money, meant for poor farmers in that province, was allegedly paid to Estina, a company linked to the controversial Gupta family.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said the party would write to the chairperson of the justice committee and to the House chairperson to request that the committee consider Mkhwebane’s removal.

“Parliament can’t afford to keep turning a blind eye to what is clearly an abuse of office by advocate Mkhwebane,” Breytenbach said.

But this week Mkhwebane rubbished the claims that she sanitised a provisional report compiled during the tenure of her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela, to protect ANC politicians, including then Free State premier Ace Magashule.

Mkhwebane said any attempt to portray her as having shielded the politicians was malicious and came from people with ulterior motives.

This was in response to a court application launched by Casac last week in which it wants the court to set aside Mkhwebane’s final report on the Vrede farm project and also to declare that she failed in her duties as defined in the constitution.

Casac argues Mkhwebane had “acted unlawfully, irrationally and unreasonably in failing to properly investigate the allegations of fraud, maladministration and corruption in respect of the Vrede dairy farm”.

In an affidavit deposed by Casac executive secretary Lawson Naidoo, the council claims Mkhwebane had made some “troubling” changes to the provisional report.

Naidoo said where Madonsela had been specific in recommending an investigation against the former head of the Department of Agriculture in the Free State, Peter Thabethe, Mkhwebane removed that and recommended disciplinary action against “implicated officials”.

However Mkhwebane hit back in a statement saying the provisional report had no legal status and she no obligation to implement its recommendations.

She also said that politicians were never part of the report and she had since taken a decision to probe the involvement of politicians in the project.

“Yet some people are despe- rately trying to have the public believe that I have come into office to protect politicians,” Mkhwebane said.

The Mercury