Court orders Mkhwebane to pay some costs of Estina report case

The High Court in Pretoria on Thursday ruled that she was personally liable for a fraction of costs in the case relating to her report on the Estina dairy farm project.

FILE: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on 22 July 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

PRETORIA - The Public Protector has been dealt yet another blow by the courts and one that does further damage to her pocket.

The High Court in Pretoria has ordered that Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane personally pick up some of the legal costs for the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac).

The two parties successfully applied to the court to have Mkhwebane’s report on the Vrede dairy farm project reviewed and set aside.

Judge Ronel Tolmay ordered the office of the Public Protector to pick up 85% of the legal costs of the DA and rights group Casac.

Mkhwebane also has to pay 7.5% out of her own pocket.

Tolmay found that Mkwebane failed South Africans because of the manner in which she conducted the investigation of the Estina dairy farm project.

The court held that the advocate failed to execute her constitutional duties and turned a blind eye to some of the complaints which led to the intended beneficiaries of the project being deprived of an opportunity to improve their lives.

This ruling comes three weeks after the Constitutional Court confirmed a personal costs order against Mkhwebane for her handling of the Absa/Bankorp bailout investigation.

The rulings raised further questions over the Mkhwebane’s competence and integrity to hold the important office.