News | South Africa | Courts
With her world seemingly collapsing, Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane, described as a “swinging wrecking ball”, has ignored the brewing perjury storm around her and instead focused on a celebration.
Her office yesterday said Mkhwebane would today lead celebrations of the office’s first clean audit in its 25 year history.
Oupa Segalwe, the Public Protector’s spokesperson, said with Mkhwebane at the helm, the office also finalised 95% of its caseload within set turnaround times.
But experts and activists said Mkhwebane had done more damage than good to her office and should have been removed in July after it was found she was dishonest in her investigation of the apartheid-era loan by the SA Reserve Bank to Bankorp.
Accountability Now director advocate Paul Hoffman, who laid the original charge which resulted in the dishonesty ruling, said he has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend Mkhwebane pending the outcome of her perjury case.
“She has been a swinging wrecking ball in that office … and what happens is that too often her findings are taken on review.
“Every time this sort of thing happens, it costs the taxpayer more money. Although she is occasionally ordered to pay a percentage out of her pocket, it is usually you and me who pays,” Hoffman said.
He said when the judgment was delivered, Accountability Now wrote to the Hawks to charge Mkhwebane for perjury, which carries a minimum penalty of one year and the maximum penalty of between five and 10 years per charge, depending on a judicial discretion.
Hoffman said they also asked the Legal Practice Council to strike her off the roll of advocates and parliament, to start with the process of removing her from office.
“Nobody had done anything until last week when the Hawks swooped. When we heard that she had been summonsed, we again wrote to [Ramaphosa] calling for her suspension,” he said.
Lawson Naidoo, executive secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, agreed Mkhwebane should have been removed after the initial ruling.
He said though they were comforted by the decision to prosecute her, it was baffling why it had taken so long as it was clear from the judgment that she had lied under oath.
“She should have been removed long ago,” Naidoo said.
According to the charge sheet, in count one “Mkhwebane declared under oath that she only had one meeting with then president Jacob Zuma though this was false”, states the charge sheet.
The second count relates Mkhwebane’s declaration that she had a second meeting with Zuma to clarify his response to the provisional report, “while knowing that the purpose declared was not correct”.
About the third count, the charge sheet states that in an affidavit dated June 2018, Mkhwebane allegedly “declared that she did not discuss the final report/ new remedial action with the president on June 7, 2017 while knowing that it was not true.”
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