Suspended public protector dealt a blow by Free State High Court

All those accused in the 2014 Asbestos project are out on bail and were warned to appear in court for the resumption of the pre-trial.

The suspended Public Protector (PP) Busisiwe Mkhwebane and her office have been dealt a blow by the Free State High Court.

A judgment by judge Lungile Bomela has set aside Mkhwebane’s finding against one of the accused in the failed R255m, 2014 Asbestos project.

Bomela ruled Mkhwebane’s finding that led to the suspension of Mahlomola John Matlakala from the Free State Department of Human Settlement should be set aside.

Neither Mkhwebane’s office nor the department as cited on the court papers opposed Matlakala’s court bid to have his suspension set aside.

Matlakala – represented by attorney Lebohang Mokhele -argued his suspension and the PP’s finding were invalid and should be set aside.

The judgment was delivered with no costs to the parties who were cited as a respondent on the court papers. It’s understood Matlakala should be able to report back to his duties on May 5.

In court papers, Bomela says: “This application concerns the remedial action of the public protector against then head of the Department of Human Settlement in the Free State, directing him to investigate the conduct of the applicant about what has become known as the asbestos roof tender associated with black head consulting (Pty). Ltd (BlackHead)”

In 2022 Matlakala, who is accused two in the 2014 failed project case, approached the labour court in Durban in KZN following financial constraints.

The suspended official, who allegedly worked in supply chain management during the asbestos project, announced through his legal attorney, Lebohang Mokhele, that he has been hit by financial constraints and will be taking the mentioned department to court to cover his legal fees.

The accused in the Asbestos case include Sodi, Mlamleli, Mokhesi, supply chain management director at Human Settlements Matlakala, businessman Sello Joseph Radebe who resides in Johannesburg, Pretoria businessman Abel Kgotso Manyeki, former national Department of Human Settlements director-general Thabane Wiseman Zulu, and Albertus Venter, who occupied a role in the Free State premier’s office.

All the accused are out on bail ranging from R5 000 to R100 000 and were all warned to appear in court on the date for the resumption of the pre-trial.

On January 20, the Free State High Court postponed the matter to May 5.

This was to allow for a decision by the Bloemfontein-based Supreme Court of Appeal on a petition by Magashule and others, who have since approached the appeal’s court.

Source: OFM News

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