Masuku's lawyers say SIU report that led to his axing should be reviewed

Former Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku is seeking to have the report declared unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.

FILE: Former Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku addressing the media in Johannesburg during a press briefing on 17 July 2020 by the provincial command council on its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: @GautengProvince/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Former Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku's lawyers have told the High Court that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU)'s report, which led to his axing should be subjected to judicial scrutiny.

William Mokhari said the option to sue the SIU for defamation of character over its findings against Masuku was a remedy that was not available to his client.

Mokhari has spent parts of Thursday morning arguing before a full bench of the High Court that the SIU report into COVID-19 tender processes was reviewable.

Masuku is seeking to have the report declared unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura acted on the SIU report, which found that Masuku had failed to provide oversight on processes to procure personal protective equipment and failed to uphold both the Constitution and the regulations contained in the Public Finance Management Act.

Mokhari, who has likened the SIU to the Public Protector, said it was protected by statute from being sued.

"You can't sue the Public Protector because the Public Protector is performing a function and similarly you can't sue the SIU because the bar then becomes too high and you have to pierce what you call the corporate veil, so the remedy of suing for defamation is simply untenable and not available and that is why the consumer has decided that the improper exercise of public power by the State will be controlled through judicial scrutiny."

Mokhari also told the court that the SIU report was sloppy and had no credence and no evidence.

He said the findings were like an albatross around Masuku’s head: “They’ve done a sloppy job, a sloppy job of such a nature one cannot even point to a piece of single evidence they relied on, except sub-positions in windows and from there they made a finding, which affected the life of a person who has worked so hard on his career and that cannot be allowed under the Constitution. And that is the point the applicant is making.”

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