Public Protector Mkhwebane due to appear in court tomorrow on perjury charge

Busisiwe Mkhwebane will appear in court on Thursday morning on a charge of perjury.

FILE: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Eyewitness News learnt on Wednesday that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will be appearing in court on a perjury charge.

Eyewitness News has seen a summons in which Mkhwebane is cited as an accused person following a complaint by Accountability Now director advocate Paul Hoffman Hoffman’s complaint wanted Mkhwebane to be criminally charged for perjury. This is the first time a head of the Chapter 9 institution will face a criminal charge.

She is due to appear at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Thursday morning and is required to appear in person. Hoffman said on Wednesday that to his knowledge, the case set for Thursday was going ahead.

In July 2019, the Constitutional Court upheld a High Court ruling that found Mkhwebane was dishonest in her investigation into the apartheid-era loan by the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) to Absa in the 1980s.

A month ago, the director of public prosecutions (DPP) took a decision to prosecute Mkhwebane after assessing all the evidence collected by the Hawks.

"The NPA wishes to confirm that the DPP indeed took a decision to prosecute after he carefully assessed the evidence presented to him by the Hawks. This is in line with the prosecution policy and the law," The NPA said in a statement.

Hoffman said the complaint stretched back to 2017.

The Public Protector lost an application for leave to appeal an order by the High Court in February 2018 that she personally cover 15% of the Sarb’s legal costs in the case.

READ: Sarb-Absa report: 5 findings the ConCourt made against Mkhwebane

A full bench of the High Court set aside her controversial report and its remedial action, which ordered the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to recover more than R1 billion from Absa for the apartheid-era bailout.

“We are satisfied that the report is a product of a wholly irrational process bereft of any sound legal or factual basis,” said Gordhan’s lawyer Tebogo Malatji. “And this is what we have been saying all along.”

In November, National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise announced a three-member panel that will decide whether or not Mkhwebane has a case to answer in Parliament.

The panel consists of Justice Bess Nkabinde, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC and Advocate Johan De Waal SC to look into possibly beginning an inquiry into Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office.

READ: Modise announces 3-member panel to decide on Mkhwebane’s fate as Public Protector

In early December, the independent panel was granted an extension to do its work.

The panel asked that the 30-day period prescribed in the rules for it to conduct the inquiry be extended to 90 days – effective from 25 November, and it has already held its first meeting.

This means the first two months of 2021 will be critical for Mkhwebane’s survival as the panel receives and considers submissions during its investigation.

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