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Mkhwebane says Public Protector should be treated like a judge – report

The ‘Sunday Time’ reported that Busisiwe Mkhwebane said she should be guaranteed decisional independence like judges of the courts.

Public Protector advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: @PublicProtector/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has reportedly taken a swipe at a personal cost order issued against her by the Constitutional Court last month.

The Sunday Time reported that Mkhwebane said she should be guaranteed decisional independence like judges of the courts.

“The judges are guaranteed decisional independence, which means they can’t be made to pay personal costs for decisions or judgments they make, no matter how egregious,” Mkhwebane was quoted as saying. “The Public Protector is guaranteed similar independence, something the Constitutional Court overlooked.”

The ConCourt ruled that Mkhwebane should personally pay for 15% of the South African Reserve Bank’s legal fees in the Absa/Bankorp lifeboat matter. The ruling could reportedly cost Mkhwebane as much as R1 million.

• 5 findings ConCourt made against Mkhwebane in Absa/Bankorp ruling

According to the Sunday Times, Mkhwebane described the cost order by the ConCourt as something that would also weaken her office.

She reportedly made the point that the Office of the Public Protector performed “quasi-judicial” functions and its incumbent occupied a position similar to that of a judge.

Mkhwebane said the personal cost order ruling was dangerous because it could encourage corrupt politicians to run to the courts in the hope that her office would be made to pay part of their costs if they succeed in overturning her reports.

The Public Protector also said she would not stop doing her work even if it meant she personally paid legal costs when her reports get challenged.