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Privacy rights sometimes have to yield to PP’s crime-fighting duties, court told

That's the argument from Advocate Dali Mpofu who's representing Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhebane in her application to access confidential taxpayer information.

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

CAPE TOWN - The Constitutional Court has heard privacy rights sometimes have to yield to the State's crime-fighting obligations.

That's the argument from Advocate Dali Mpofu who represented Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhebane in her application to access confidential taxpayer information.

In March, the North Gauteng High Court ruled Mkwebane's subpoena powers do not extend to taxpayer records.

The case stems from allegations that former President Jacob Zuma received payments from Royal Security but failed to pay income tax.

Mkhwebane sought access to Zuma's tax records, but the South African Revenue Service denied her request - saying it was bound by the secrecy and confidentiality regime outlined in the Tax Administration Act.

Mpofu stressed that while privacy rights were important, they could not stand in the way of crime-fighting.

“I’m saying similarly, Section 14 rights have to yield to the anti-corruption objectives of the Public Protector Act.”

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said there must be a balance between having access to information and the constitutional right to privacy.

Mpofu said privacy rights would not be unduly impeded, as the Advocate Public Protector Act has mechanisms that prohibit the sharing of such information.

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