Official suspended after calling on Mkhwebane to resign to meet with lawyers

Sphelo Samuel accused the Public Protector of intentionally destroying the integrity of the Chapter 9 institution and called for an investigation into her fitness to hold office.

FILE: Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane delivering her findings against President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The head of the Public Protector’s office in the Free State Sphelo Samuel is planning to meet with his lawyers on Thursday after being placed on precautionary suspension.

Samuel was handed the notice on Wednesday just hours after calling on Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to resign. He accused her of intentionally destroying the integrity of the Chapter 9 institution and called for an investigation into her fitness to hold office.

In the notice seen by Eyewitness News, Samuel was placed on suspension with immediate effect.

His utterances followed a scathing judgement by the High Court in Pretoria, which set aside Mkhwebane's report into a R500,000 donation by late Bosasa boss Gavin Watson into President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2017 African National Congress presidential campaign.

Samuel said his suspension was an error of judgement on the part of the Public Protector.

“She thinks she is my employer but she is not my employer. My employer is the Office [of the Public Protector], I only report to her indirectly,” he said.

Samuel said he was not surprised by his suspension.

“It started this morning when they blocked my access to emails and the internet and I couldn’t communicate with anyone, including my staff.”

Mkhwebane has long denied allegations that she was using her office for personal gain. But Samuel is not convinced, saying he would meet his lawyers on Thursday to plot a way forward on how to challenge the suspension.

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