Pravin Gordhan lambasted for accusing Public Protector of 'state capture'
Johannesburg - Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, through her lawyer Thabani Masuku, on Tuesday slammed Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan for insulting her following a report she released last month on his involvement into establishing the so-called Sars rogue unit when he was a commissioner at the institution in 2007.
In his submissions at the North Gauteng High Court, Masuku said Gordhan's alleged stance that Mkhwebane was a liar and peddler of fake news was not consistent with his duty to protect the Chapter 9 institution.
"When you accuse the Public Protector of State Capture, you are neither complying with a section that says organs of state need to protect the Public Protector's office. There are legal grounds through which the findings of PP can be dealt with without calling her names," said Masuku.
He added: "Can she (Public Protector) walk freely without being called an enabler of State Capture... This attitude should not be allowed."
He added that Gordhan had a right to review the decision without tarnishing the Public Protector.
Masuku further told the court that if it finds that there is prima facie allegations against his client, then it should go ahead and grant an order that seeks to halt Mkhwebane from compelling President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action against Gordhan.
Meanwhile, representing Ramaphosa, advocate Matthew Chaskalson SC contended that Mkhwebane's instruction for the President to take action against Gordhan and to provide an implementation plan was indicative of her 'forcing' the President to act.
Chaskalson also read out the correspondence between Ramaphosa and Mkhwebane dated June 19 in which he said the President had indicated he had noted and considered what she required but added that despite this, Mkhwebane had insisted that he had not.
"On 3 July, the President then writes a letter to the Public Protector indicating that she might have misunderstood him. He states that he has an implementation plan saying he could not take action against Gordhan until a review has been conducted...
On 9 July (two weeks ago) the Public Protector writes a letter saying the President is not complying with her actions," Chaskalson said, adding that in the letter the Public Protector pleads with the President to avert a constitutional crisis and act.
Others who have submitted in the matter include former SARS deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay who said he supported Gordhan's review adding that he too wanted Mkhwebane to pay for his legal costs as she had disregarded his affidavit.
Pillay stated that the Public Protector's report was a conglomeration of allegations, hearsay and pieces of unverified documents.
Another respondent in the matter is former SARS head of Human Resource Oupa Magashula, who through his lawyer said the finding by Mkhwebane against him that he was guilty of perjury was far fetched and irrational and should be set aside.
Magashula maintained that despite him 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 in the saga had tarnished his reputation.