Mkhwebane showed ‘total disregard’ for the taxpayers

Judge Ronel Tolmay has ordered the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane personally to pay 7.5% of the legal costs for the DA and Casac.

FILE: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

PRETORIA - The High Court in Pretoria has found Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has shown total disregard for the taxpayer which is among the reasons the court ordered personal costs against her.

Judge Ronel Tolmay has ordered the Public Protector personally to pay 7.5% 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 to be reviewed and set aside.

When the DA and lobby group Casac filed separate applications against the Public Protector related to the same Estina Dairy Farm project, Advocate Mkhwebane appointed two sets of legal teams to handle the matter.

Judge Tolmay said this was unacceptable.

“This decision by the Public Protector, unfortunately, shows a total disregard for the taxpayer who will have to foot the bill and after her complaint about how financial constrains limited her ability to properly investigate the complaints.”

The Public Protector’s office said it would appeal the personal costs order against Mkhwebane, saying the requirements for such an order to be made were not met in this case.

Segalwe said Mkhwebane was disappointed by this latest finding against her.

“The court should’ve proven that she acted fraudulently, recklessly and that there was gross dishonesty on her part. Those are the standards that ought to be met in order for one to incur personal costs but in this case, that was not done.”

He said she would argue that such personal costs orders are detrimental to the Office of the Public Protector irrespective of who the incumbent is.