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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Mkhwebane extortion claims could open final committee report to legal challenge

An expert has expressed doubts about whether the parliamentary committee would be able to finalise its investigation and issue a report before October.

With proceedings moving at a snail’s pace, compounded by countless postponements, the committee on the Section 194 inquiry into suspended public protector (PP) advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office might not complete its work before the expiry of her term of office in October.

Announcing yet another postponement, committee chair Qubudile Dyantyi yesterday said the hearing would resume tomorrow “due to the PP’s legal team not being ready to continue”.

Mkhwebane extortion claims ‘concerning’

University of Pretoria law lecturer Dr Llewelyn Curlewis has expressed doubts about whether the parliamentary committee would be able to finalise its investigation and issue a report before October.

“Even more concerning are the latest revelations of a WhatsApp exchange of messages indicating that there is something untoward between the PP, the committee chair and other MPs.

ALSO READ: ANC will act, says Mbalula on bribery claims as Speaker tells Mkhwebane to lay complaint

“If that is proven to be true, that will then open the final committee report to scrutiny, legal challenge and to be taken on review through an application by the PP when taking the matter on appeal.”

WhatsApp messages shared with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation have led to Mkhwebane’s husband David Skosana opening a criminal case of extortion against Dyantyi, ANC MP Tina Joemat-Pettersson and chief whip Pemmy Majodina. Bribes were to be allegedly paid to ANC MPs in exchange for a favourable Mkhwebane ruling.

The messages revealed how Skosana and Joemat-Pettersson:

  • Exchanged at least 98 text messages between 16 March and 6 May; and
  • Scheduled clandestine meetings in hotels and restaurants in Boksburg, Sandton, Pretoria and in Cape Town.

Meanwhile, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has dismissed as “blatantly false and malicious”, Mkhwebane’s claims of a request for a meeting to intervene in the WhatsApp saga.

Claims ‘designed to mislead public’

Parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said: “The speaker is not in a position to investigate, make findings or dismiss allegations made against MPs.

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“It is for this reason that when Mkhwebane asked for guidance or a way forward on how to deal with her allegations, as per her letter, she immediately advised her on the appropriate procedure, which was to lodge a complaint with the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests.

“Further, Mkhwebane’s claim that the speaker exposed her as a whistle-blower is without foundation and seems to be designed to mislead the public.

“The speaker kept the details of her e-mail exchange with Mkhwebane confidential [until] the matter was made public, through the media.”

READ MORE: ‘Section 194 Inquiry won’t be distracted by gossip,’ says ANC MP on Mkhwebane extortion claims

– brians@citizen.co.za