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DA 'ready' to face Public Protector in court over alleged defamation

Mkhwebane says she intends to sue the DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach and Werner Horn for allegedly claiming she was a state security agency's spy before she was appointed to her position last year.

FILE: DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: Bertram Malgas/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane says the party is ready to face Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in a court of law for alleged defamation.

Mkhwebane says she intends to sue the DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach and Werner Horn for allegedly claiming she was a state security agency's spy before she was appointed to her position last year.

Maimane says the party views this as an opportunity to speak about Mkhwebane’s background and her ability to perform her job.

“The DA will not shy away from this, or any further legal action, to ensure that the Public Protector’s office is above politicking and not subject to the political interference that seems to have characterised her tenure,” the party explains in a statement.

Maimane has also requested that the Public Protector release the Estina dairy farm report within seven days.

AmaBhungane first revealed in 2013 how the Free State provincial government had gifted an unknown company, Estina, a free 99-year lease to a 4,400-hectare farm outside Vrede. Estina’s sole director was an IT salesman with no farming experience.

The government also promised Estina R114-million a year for three years to set up a farming operation and dairy, whose supposed purpose was to empower locals and boost provincial agriculture.

It’s understood Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, then Free State MEC for Agriculture, drove the provincial government to adopt the dairy project. Vrede is Zwane’s home town. The project was not put out to public tender.

In 2013, amaBhungane established that Estina had an address also used by Gupta companies and that Kamal Vasram, its sole director, had ties to the Guptas.

The DA leader says they’ll approach the courts to compel Mkhwebane to release the report should she fail to do so.

Maimane’s spokesperson Portia Adams says: “There are other issues that are still outstanding that predates this one. We are still waiting on the report of the Estina dairy farm that was due six months ago.”

The party says her decision to take legal action against them comes shortly the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, at the behest of the ANC, backtracked on instituting a formal inquiry into her fitness for office.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)