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Court finds Ramaphosa complied with PP's remedial action on Ivan Pillay report

The High Court in Pretoria has ruled that the president has complied with the remedial action in relation to the report on former South African Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the State of the Nation Address (Sona) in a joint sitting of Parliament on 20 June 2019. Picture: GCIS

PRETORIA - The Public Protector has lost another court battle, this time to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The High Court in Pretoria has ruled that the president has complied with the remedial action in relation to the report on former South African Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement.

Last month, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane had found against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan for that decision and instructed the president to take note of her report and take appropriate steps against the minister.

Mkhwebane had told the court that Ramaphosa failed to comply with her instructions, however, Judge Letty Molopa-Sethosa found that Mkhwebane simply disagreed with the president.

"It is declared that the president of the Republic of South Africa has complied with the remedial action. The president in compliance of paragraph 7.1 of the report noted the adverse findings made in the reprot against the second respondent and within 30 days submitted and implementation plan to the Public Protector."

The judge ordered remedial action to be implemented but only after Gordhan’s review application was finalised.

"The president is directed in accordance with the implementation plan and subject to the decision of this court in the review application to take appropriate disciplinary action against the minister within 30 days from the date of the final determination of the minister's review application."

'JUDGE STRUGGLED TO READ OWN JUDGMENT'

However, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said Judge Letty Molopa-Sethosa failed to state the exceptional circumstances under which she decided to allow Ramaphosa to suspend the remedial action against Gordhan.

Reacting to the judgment outside the High Court in Pretoria, EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the Constitutional Court had ruled that only a court decision - not an application - could set Mkhwebane's remedial action aside.

He said this even though Judge Molopa-Sethosa cited two cases in which Mkhwebane consented to suspending remedial action pending judicial applications, not decisions.

Ndlozi said the judge struggled to read her own judgment.

"A mere application for review cannot set them aside. You can only set them aside on exceptional circumstance. You and I were here in this court as the judge was struggling to read her own judgment. Not once did she say what the exceptional circumstances were."

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