High court to deliver judgment in Pravin Gordhan, Public Protector case
Johannesburg - All eyes will be on the North Gauteng High Court as Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane go head to head yet again in a battle over the SARS rogue unit report.
Judge Sulet Potterill is expected to deliver her much-anticipated judgment which will shed light on whether Gordhan has managed to interdict Mkhwebane from enforcing several of her remedial actions following her report released early this month in which she maintained that Gordhan, during his tenure as SARS commissioner, had unlawfully established a high-risk unit aimed at clamping down on various syndicates who were infiltrating the revenue service.
His deputy at the time, Ivan Pillay, has also been implicated.
Mkwebane’s office and Gordhan have remained silent on the judgment. The Economic Freedom Fighters are also expected to make an appearance in court again today as they vow to continue supporting the public protector’s office.
Previously, EFF leader Julius Malema said Monday’s decision by Potterill weighed heavily on the future of the public protector’s office and that if Gordhan is granted the interim relief he seeks, this would be an indictment on Mkhwebane’s office as ordinary citizens would be bullied through the courts by those they report for corruption and maladministration.
In her report, Mkhwebane called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to take hefty action against Gordhan as he had misled Parliament on the matter and had thus breached the executive ethics code.
Mkhwebane insisted the unit in question was found to have also violated national security over how it had conducted its operations.
But through his court application, Gordhan said Mkhwebane’s findings were flawed and that her investigation process was questionable as she had ignored certain aspects of his submissions.
In court last week, Gordhan’s counsel, advocate Wim Trengrove SC, maintained that his client wanted Mkhwebane’s orders suspended immediately and that she be halted from effecting any of her remedial actions. This, he said, was due to the fact that Gordhan had taken Mkhwebane’s report on judicial review and that she had to wait until the matter is resolved.
In defence of Mkhwebane, her counsel, Thabani Masuku, slammed Gordhan for insulting his client. Masuku said Gordhan’s alleged remarks that Mkhwebane was a liar and peddler of fake news were not consistent with his duty to protect the Chapter 9 institution.
He maintained that the court had to grant his client the go-ahead to conduct her work.
Ramaphosa’s counsel, advocate Matthew Chaskalson SC, maintained that Mkhwebane’s instruction for the president to take action against Gordhan and provide her with an implementation plan at a set time to avert a “constitutional crisis” was indicative of her 'forcing' him to act and violate his duties as president.
He said Ramaphosa sought to also wait for Gordhan’s review to be finalised and only then will he make a decision.
Monday’s judgment is also set to provide clarity for former SARS head of Human Resources Oupa Magashula.
Advocate Piet de Jager, speaking on behalf of Magashula, in court last week said his client had been prejudiced by Mkhwebane’s findings against him as her report had found him guilty of perjury. He said this notion was far-fetched, irrational and should be set aside.
Magashula maintained that despite his informing Mkhwebane that he was not aware that a rogue unit existed when he was at SARS, her insistence that it did and to rope him into the saga has also tarnished his reputation.