Public Protector braces for court battles
Johannesburg - Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has galvanised top lawyers to help fight court challenges lodged against her by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan over her remedial actions against them.
It is understood that advocate Dali Mpofu will be the first to meet Mkhwebane on Monday morning to discuss and prepare papers to challenge Ramaphosa’s failure to act against Gordhan for his role in awarding an early pension payout to former South African Revenue Service (SARS) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay in August 2010.
Last month, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted Ramaphosa an interdict to stay the remedial action pending the review application.
In his application, Ramaphosa argued that he could not take action against Gordhan as the minister had also filed papers in the high court challenging Mkhwebane’s remedial action.
Now, Mkhwebane and Mpofu are expected to file papers to oppose the review application.
Advocates Thabani Masuku and Muzi Sikhakhane have also been roped in the deal with Gordhan’s and Ramaphosa’s challenges respectively.
Masuku will brief Mkhwebane about the strategy to deal with Gordhan’s opposition to her findings that he misled Parliament about a meeting with one of the Gupta family members. She also found that Gordhan had played a role in the formation of a “rogue unit” at SARS which was allegedly formed illegally.
According to Mkhwebane, such an investigation unit was supposed to have been approved by the president of the country.
Now Gordhan has taken Mkhwebane’s remedial action on review, arguing that the public protector did not have lawful powers to investigate the matter because the formation of the SARS investigative unit happened more than nine years ago.
Gordhan insisted that the Public Protector Act only allows Mkhwebane to investigate matters which happened within two years.
Gordhan’s argument was supported by Judge Sulet Potterill when she ruled in his favour in his interdict application to stay the implementation of remedial action against him. Mkhwebane had recommended that the national prosecuting authority and the police prefer criminal charges against Gordhan and several other Sars officials accused of having formed the “rogue unit”.
Masuku is also expected to brief Mkhwebane on how they intend to challenge Gordhan’s review application.
Sikhakhane was roped in to help Mkhwebane deal with Ramaphosa opposition to her remedial action concerning the donation of R500 000 made to him for his presidential campaign to become the ANC president at the party’s elective conference.
Mkhwebane also found there was a possibility of money laundering after she found that numerous business people made several contributions amounting to millions to rand for his presidential campaign.
“All these lawyers will meet with the public protector to deal with all the outstanding cases. The public protector is concerned about the latest scathing judgments against her. So she wants the lawyers to prepare early to deal with the matters,” said a source. Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe did not respond by publication time.