Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane briefs the media on findings from her various investigations. Picture: Oupa Mokoena / African News Agency (ANA)
Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane briefs the media on findings from her various investigations. Picture: Oupa Mokoena / African News Agency (ANA)

ConCourt ruling on personal costs lowest point of 2019 for PP

By LOYISO SIDIMBA Time of article published Dec 13, 2019

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Johannesburg - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane took a swipe at the Constitutional Court for its majority judgment that she personally pay the costs of the litigation over her report on the R1.125billion Absa-Bankorp lifeboat.

She described the judgment - written by Justice Sisi Khampepe and Justice Leona Theron - in July as her lowest moment of 2019.

”While we respect the courts and their decisions, it remains my considered view that that decision is a threat to the independence of this office, and will have a negative impact on my work and that of future public protectors,” Mkhwebane said.

She added that this was also a concern for the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association and the International Ombudsman Institute, a global organisation to which her office is affiliated.

“We hope for a better experience in 2020. We find solace in the minority judgment, which properly captured our papers,” Mkhwebane said.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng penned the dissenting judgment, in which he wrote he would not have penalised Mkhwebane with personal costs.

She also reflected on her five years as Public Protector in her final press briefing of 2019.

According to Mkhwebane, those harbouring ambitions to replace her in 2021 would need a thick skin to withstand all the challenges.

Mkhwebane also used the media briefing at her offices to give an update on some of her high-profile investigations. These included the Vrede dairy farm matter, and the looting of the VBS Mutual Bank, in which she placed much focus on the conduct of actors in various municipalities who illegally deposited municipal funds into the doomed financial institution.

Mkhwebane maintained that she was also about to conclude her investigation on the website of the Free State provincial government, which reportedly cost R144 million.

Other investigations soon to be concluded include that of the SA Revenue Service and its former executive Jonas Makwakwa, and probes into the Medupi and Kusile power stations and independent power producers.

She also announced that she had closed investigations into high profile individuals due to the allegations being unsubstantiated, some of which date back to five years ago.

Mkhwebane has cleared former National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete of receiving a share allocation worth R25m in Invictus Gold.

She also cleared former communications minister Faith Muthambi, former national police boss Riah Phiyega and former energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson on various allegations ranging from breaching the Executive Members’ Ethics Code to irregular appointments and improper conduct in the nuclear build programme.

Politics Bureau

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