Gordhan’s lawyers ask court to set aside Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report

The Public Protector found Minister Pravin Gordhan guilty of improper conduct after he granted the early retirement payout of then Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

FILE: Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s lawyers have filed a review application asking the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to set aside a report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Mkhwebane found Gordhan guilty of improper conduct after he granted the early retirement payout of then South African Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay.

Gordhan’s lawyer Tebogo Malatji said his client would also ask the court to set aside Mkhwebane’s report and findings as unconstitutional, unlawful, irrational and invalid.

Malatji said the president and former Sars boss Oupa Magashula had been cited in the application as interested parties.

“The court papers were issued on Tuesday [28 May] morning, and they are with a sheriff for service on various parts. The report must be reviewed and certified,” he said.

Mkhwebane said the complaint about Pillay’s payout and early retirement was made anonymously in November 2016.

She said analysis of 11 documents, interviews and considerations of key case law formed part of her investigation.

Mkhwebane found that by law, Gordhan was not authorised to sign off on Pillay’s request for early retirement and full payout.

Last week, Gordhan confirmed he would institute immediate review proceedings against the Public Protector's report and findings, including the proposed remedial action.

In a statement on 24 May, Gordhan’s lawyers said they doubted whether Mkhwebane had paid due consideration to Gordhan's submissions.

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said it believed that Gordhan was innocent.

The foundation has accused the Public Protector of playing factional politics, adding that it's concerned about her competence and ability to discharge her duties.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have meanwhile rejected calls for Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to be removed from office after the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation on Monday joined growing calls for her to be sanctioned.

In a statement, the red berets said the calls were a direct attack on the Chapter 9 institution.

The EFF also accused the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation of racism.

“We are of the view that the Kathrada organisation is becoming a racist organisation that speaks only when Indians are touched,” the EFF said.

The EFF said the Public Protector’s decisions were binding until set aside by the court.

Additional reporting by Winnie Theletsane and Robinson Nqola