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Mkhwebane’s investigation into Abramjee’s SMS reveals 18 calls to Justice Kollapen, wants JSC and Hawks to probe

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane releases a number of investigation reports during a media briefing on Tuesday. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane releases a number of investigation reports during a media briefing on Tuesday. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Jun 1, 2022


Alleged leaks from the Constitutional Court to self-acclaimed legal analyst Ismail Abramjee may well be from members of the administrative staff or a senior judge but “the weight leans more towards the judiciary”, claimed Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Tuesday.

She has since called on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) and Hawks to investigate the matter after her office’s preliminary investigations revealed 18 calls exchanged between Abramjee and one phone number registered under the name Narandran Kollapen - known as Justice Jody Kollapen.

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Mkhwebane’s office conducted a preliminary investigation, out of its own initiative, after her application was postponed in the high court in April when it was revealed that Abramjee sent an SMS to Parliament’s counsel, advocate Andrew Breitenbach SC, saying the public protector would lose the application.

Mkhwebane said it was suspected that by specifically sending the information to Breitenbach, Abramjee intended to assist and favour a particular side to the litigation and to hurt or prejudice the opposing side, namely, the public protector.

This was a closing report delivered by Mkhwebane on Tuesday. Her office issues such reports in cases where the allegations or suspicions that gave rise to an investigation are either unsubstantiated or if her office is not empowered by law to deal with such a case.

According to Mkhwebane’s report, an analysis of the cellphone data received from network providers showed that 18 telephone calls were exchanged between the number from which the controversial SMS to Breitenbach was made and the one registered under the name Narandran Kollapen.

These calls were exchanged between January 4, 2022 and April 22, two days before Adv Breitenbach SC received the controversial SMS.

She said the shortest call lasted three seconds while the longest took 436 seconds or just over seven minutes.

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There was just one cellphone call on March 4 from Abramjee to a number registered under the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development “reasonably suspected to be issued to or used by Justice (Dunstan) Mlambo”.

She said evidence also showed that the controversial SMS was not the first time Abramjee sent text messages to Adv Breitenbach SC. There were two other text messages before.

Mkhwebane said the motive behind the unsolicited SMSes sent by Abramjee to Breitenbach was “emblematic of a nefarious intention and effort to commit a criminal conduct”.

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“The preliminary investigation has proven that the nature of this complaint invariably stretches to the judicial arena. Furthermore, the complaint carries all the hallmarks of criminality and nefarious motives by Mr Abramjee and his accomplice(s),” Mkhwebane stated.

She added that except for Breitenbach and the network providers, all of the other respondents, advanced that view that her office was not empowered to investigate this matter and did not supply the information that was required.

“Be that as it may, the weight of available circumstantial evidence established in this preliminary investigation appears to tilt the scales towards an ineluctable conclusion that the sources of Mr Abramjee may well be members of the administrative staff or judicial officials based at the Constitutional Court. The weight leans more towards members of the judiciary,” she said.

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Mkhwebane said a complaint will be lodged with the Judicial Service Commission and the matter will also be referred to the Hawks to investigate crimes which may have been committed.

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Political Bureau