Pretoria - Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has opened a criminal case against an Mpumalanga municipal speaker who failed three times to appear as a witness before her.
Mkhwebane opened a case against the speaker of Dr JS Moroka Local Municipality in Siyabuswa, Dipuo Mahlangu, last month.
Mahlangu was served with subpoenas to appear in person before her on June 23, July 27 and September 9, to no avail all three times.
She was due to give evidence regarding an investigation into allegations of the irregular appointment of an acting municipal manager who had claims of maladministration levelled against him. Speaking to Pretoria News, Oupa Segalwe, Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, said the chapter nine institution had powers to subpoena witnesses to answer questions or provide evidence on the office’s investigations.
He said: “In terms of section 7(4) (a) of the Public Protector Act, read with section 7(5) of the same legislation, the public protector has the power to direct any person to submit an affidavit or affirmation or to appear before her to give evidence or produce any document in their possession or under their control, which has a bearing on a matter under investigation. The public protector may also examine such a person.”
Segalwe said Mahlangu had undertaken to provide a written report and documents on the information she presented during a meeting she had with the public protector on May 18.
“No apology was received in respect of the first hearing. With regard to the second hearing, a WhatsApp text was received from her office, claiming she had been admitted to hospital. However, no medical certificate was provided. Neither was the name of the hospital specified,” Segalwe said.
“In the last attempt, an aide of Ms Mahlangu’s contacted the public protector, informing the office the speaker could not attend as she had been summoned to Nelspruit by the ANC,” he said. Mkhwebane said: “State functionaries must understand they are not entitled to opt in or out of an investigation at will.
“The constitution of the republic enjoins other organs of state to support and assist the public protector to ensure the institution’s independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness.
“There are serious consequences for failure to co-operate and comply without just cause.”