South Africa

NEWSFLASH

Public Protector in court on perjury charges that her lawyer describes as ‘frivolous’

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane sits in the dock at the Pretoria Magistrates Court on charges of perjury. The case has been postponed till 25 March 2021. Photo / Shiraaz Mohamed.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane appeared in the magistrate’s court in Pretoria on Thursday morning, charged with three counts of perjury. Mkhwebane is accused of having lied to the courts over her SA Reserve Bank investigation – and becomes the first sitting head of a Chapter 9 institution to face criminal charges.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane made a brief appearance in the Pretoria Regional Court on Monday, flanked by her lawyer Dali Mpofu.

Although Mkhwebane is accustomed to having her reports taken on legal review, on this occasion she was facing the heat personally: charged with three counts of perjury.

No arguments were heard and no pleas entered at this stage, as the state and Mkhwebane’s counsel had agreed on a postponement of the matter until 25 March 2021. Mpofu told the court, however, that they intend to seek a withdrawal of the case on the grounds that the charges against the Public Protector are “frivolous”.

The perjury charges were laid against Mkhwebane by the head of NGO Accountability Now, advocate Paul Hoffman, in August 2019. They stem from Mkhwebane’s conduct during the judicial review of her investigation into the SA Reserve Bank’s bailout of apartheid bank Bankorp between 1985 and 1991.

In particular, Mkhwebane is accused of having “unlawfully and intentionally” lied under oath in court documents in 2017 and 2018 about the number of times she met with former president Jacob Zuma during the investigation into the SA Reserve Bank, and the purpose of those meetings.

The Constitutional Court found in November 2018 that Mkhwebane had “put forward a number of falsehoods in the course of litigation” around the Reserve Bank report.

The meetings that Mkhwebane held with Zuma and state security officials over the Reserve Bank report were considered extraordinary given the need for the head of a Chapter 9 institution to conduct herself with independence and impartiality.

In the meetings of one such meeting, Mkhwebane had written: “How are they vulnerable?”, with reference to the Reserve Bank.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane appears in the Pretoria Magistrates Court on charges of perjury, 21 January, 2020. Photo / Shiraaz Mohamed.

Mkhwebane’s eventual report was overturned by the courts on the grounds that she had grossly overstepped her mandate by ordering Parliament to re-direct the mandate of the Reserve Bank.  

Mkhwebane’s office previously released a statement in response to the perjury charges saying that the Public Protector would be cooperating with the judicial process “as a law-abiding citizen”, but was “confident the court will clear her of any wrongdoing”.

The Public Protector’s court appearance on Thursday came a week into a two-and-a-half-month break taken by Mkhwebane to “rest”. Her sabbatical may further be disturbed in future by her requirement to cooperate with Parliament during the independent inquiry currently being carried out into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.

Hoffman told Daily Maverick this week: “Advocate Mkhwebane is the author of her own misfortune”. DM

 

 

 

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 9

  • The sooner SA sees the back of this deceitful and conniving individual, the better. She has a nefarious political agenda to muddy the waters and is completely biased in her reports. She whitewashes key RET culprits and targets their “enemies” in order to confuse and obscure the real issues. Her understanding of the law and procedures are fatally flawed as are her lies and misrepresentations – as has been proven countless times in courts slapping her down. She is clearly unfit for office and nothing but an embarrassment to the position and the nation. The fact that someone as odious as Dali Mpofu is representing her, like he does all scoundrels, says it all.

  • “The Constitutional Court found in November 2018 that Mkhwebane had “put forward a number of falsehoods in the course of litigation” around the Reserve Bank report.” and then “Mpofu told the court, however, that they intend to seek a withdrawal of the case on the grounds that the charges against the Public Protector are “frivolous”. Who the hell does he think he is? Has Mpofu ever actually won a significant case?

    • “If the facts are against you, argue the law. If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the law and the facts are against you, pound the table and yell like hell”

  • I would have to respectfully disagree with advocate Mpofu – if a qualified advocate AND head of an office as important as that of the PP lies under oath, particularly in order to cover her own @ss with regard to overstepping her mandate – it is anything BUT frivolous!
    Hopefully she gets jailed – then parliament will likely not need to undertake any impeachment process…

  • Rebecca, I’m mystified: what is frivolous about being charged with perjury? Is this a technical issue? Am I just stupid? Is lying in court not perjury in SA any more? If she lied, why the delay? And why so long? What is wrong with our judicial system that delays justice so consistently and readily? This report begs more questions than it answers…

  • There’s a perception among a considerable number of South Africans that Dali Mpofu (a bit like Brian Molefe) is a giant in his industry. I believe this perception was relentlessly advanced by Eusebius McKaiser when he still had a platform on radio 702. I lost all respect for Eusebius McKaiser’s judgement and view Dali Mpofu as the poor man’s Rudy Giulani.

    • Have to agree. McKaiser and the massive chip on his shoulder also made me abort 702. He is a pseudo-intellectual and no less so than his good buddy Dali.

  • Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted