Defend Truth


Mpofu and Mkhwebane score own goal by calling Madonsela to impeachment inquiry

Mpofu and Mkhwebane score own goal by calling Madonsela to impeachment inquiry
Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane chats to advocate Dali Mpofu during Mkhwebane's impeachment proceedings at Parliament in February 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Although former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was called by Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s legal team to testify at her Section 194 impeachment inquiry, they must secretly regret the move.

Those of us paying off some karmic debt, or just killing time watching the daily broadcasts of the historic Section 194 impeachment inquiry, have grown accustomed to a general lowering of the tone of some personal interactions.

Read in Daily Maverick:Ace Magashule placed his MEC for agriculture at centre of Vrede dairy scandal, Madonsela told hearing

Supporters of the now-suspended Public Protector (PP), advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, are the regular howlers, and include advocate Dali Mpofu, the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Julius Malema and Omphile Maotwe, as well as the African Transformation Movement’s Vuyo Zungula.

Advocate Madonsela is a difficult person to read. She is softly-spoken, generally, and a sort of benign smile holds her features together. Inscrutable is what comes to mind. Disarming.

The public Madonsela we think we know is one who represented the office of the PP between 2009 and 2016, authored the Nkandla report, and lit the fire to the tinder that is the State Capture Report – the “black swan” of investigations, as she referred to it.

Of forgiveness and neuroscience 

What we did learn about Madonsela, PP, is that she would organise meetings with people who might disagree with her in her office, and she “always made sure I brought my team to meetings”.

She did this to model the fact that her leadership style was one of reliance on the thinking in the group. However, ultimately everything she signed was what she believed was the truth, and legally sound.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa asked Madonsela how she felt about “the same people” (the ANC) who had attempted to discredit her after Nkandla and the State Capture Report, now praising her.

Madonsela is worth quoting verbatim in this instance, for it is the frequency of her statement that elevates it above the legalese, sarcasm and insult that has consumed this inquiry.

“I am not surprised that I get praised because we all deal with life based on the new information that we have at any given stage in life. We act according to what we know, what we think, and how we feel. That is what neuroscience tells us. 

“I hold no grudges against anybody who dealt with me in any particular way at any given stage.

“They did so in terms of what they thought was good for them, or the party, or the country at the time. And the fact that we differ on what we think is good for the country at any given stage does not mean we should always differ. 

“When we have persuaded each other to see a picture that is beyond my paradigm and your paradigm, there is room for some dialectical change. I am happy about the changes I see, because they give me hope for our democracy. They give me hope for the country.”

Thuli Madonsela, Mkhwebane

Thuli Madonsela. (Photo: Gallo Images/Esa Alexander)

That slippery thing truth

Madonsela also set out her understanding of that slippery thing “truth”, with regard to Mkhwebane’s assertion that she [Madonsela] had left a “provisional” report in the Vrede matter, when she had left office.

“It depends on the context. If the facts appear to logically connect, you would arrive at a particular answer. It is not illogical on what appears to be fact. Of course you later realise that what appeared to be facts are not facts, and then it becomes untrue,” offered Madonsela.

Mpofu spent so much of the day drilling away at the legality of corrected typographical errors in Madonsela’s statement to the inquiry, that the DA’s Kevin Milam cried out in frustration.

At one stage Mpofu and the committee were in discussion about a letter in the alphabet and how a mistake had been corrected, for the umteenth time.

“Chair, Chair. We have been going on about this for four hours! I am at the end of my patience with this.”

Getting down and very dirty

Towards the end of the day, it did get down and very dirty when Mpofu asked Madonsela what she had thought of insults she’d faced in public. That she was a spy for the CIA, and others. And then proceeded to read these attacks on Madonsela into the record.

The Prof had had enough.

“Even by your standards, this was the lowest. To bring insults that have not been in the public domain, to bring them into this space!” she lashed out.

Then continued: “I am shocked beyond measure that you, as an advocate of the high court of this country, have taken slurs – a lot of them have never been said in Parliament – that you have repeated now. They are about my looks… what you have brought was what President Zuma said in the streets into the records, and that is shocking and unprofessional.”

She accused Mpofu of “taking a street fight and bringing it here. You have reduced my response to what was said about forgiveness. I did not say I have forgiven, I said people change”.

Madonsela said she expected “MPs, lawyers and reasonable people to change their minds”.

Of the committee members, Madonsela told Mpofu “they are here in this room trying to make sure that South Africa works for South Africans”.

Mpofu attempted to backtrack, saying he did preface reading out the insults by saying they were “despicable”.

“You are elevating those things,” said Madonsela, “Again Mr Mpofu, this is not my impeachment, it is your client’s impeachment.”

And then Madonsela lanced the boil in her parting words to the committee.

“I was shocked that I was asked if I was an advocate or not, born here or not. The only thing I was not asked was whether I am a woman or not, and to prove it.”

Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane during a break in her impeachment proceedings at Parliament in March 2023. (Photo: Shelley Christians)

Spies are all lies

Mpofu, towards the end of proceedings, said it was his intention to “assure you there is no evidence, the record will show, that the State Security Agency (SSA) was directly involved with the Public Protector”.

Read in Daily Maverick: Inside Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s State Security Agency-riddled Public Protector’s office

The advocate might have missed extensive testimony on former SSA Director General Arthur Fraser’s continued links with Mkhwebane after her appointment in 2016.

Mkhwebane is expected to testify from 15 to 31 March. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Class always come through, in this case Thuli Madonsela ,all class ,and Mpofu like a sewer rat

  • Mohammed Tikly says:

    Good for you, Professor Madonsela You make us proud. With people of your calibre still in our midst there is hope for this beautiful country.

  • Easy Does It says:

    Dali said that insults to him were like pouring water on a ducks back. If that was really the case then why complain “Chair I need protection”. The cry baby stood in the gutter and shouted his diatribe while the Honourable Professor Madonsela looked at him in the gutter and responded like a professional. Dali must have some influence in the LPC for them not to take him to task.

    Further, he clearly tried to put Professor Madonesela on trial and all she’d done was to remind Parliament that the APEX court has told you not to ignore what is in the media in the M&G case. I hope they get that and use that hint.

  • Johann Eybers says:

    Advocate Madonsela exposed Mpofo for what he is, Hot air, no substance. It was comical to see how he folded when he was up against a real advocate.

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    Dali it must be remembered … early in his career during his stint at the SABC, learnt that you can ‘get away’ with making “peanuts” ! Based on that experience, he has chosen to find ways to continue generating “peanuts” for himself. Unfortunately this enquiry is not a proper courtroom, but the one thing that the judicial profession should learn from this, is for the presiding judge to place a reasonable time limit on resolving a particular case at the start of a case … so that serial time wasters and performative artists like Mpofu do not abuse it, to gratuitously multiply their “peanuts” at taxpayers expense. Only in exceptional cases, should the presiding judge modify such time constraints. In the meantime, the Dali/Mkwebane circus will drag on at our taxpayer expense. Time for the presiding officer in this enquiry to pull the plug on the Dali extravaganza and wrap things up!

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    A pathetic little man with a huge false and brittle ego. Nothing but a RET courtroom bully, who insults and intimidates until the recipient of his puerile and toxic tirade stands up to him, or in this case, comes across a real professional. Well done Thuli for exposing this odious individual for what he really is. 👏👍

  • Trevor Pope says:

    Dali Mpofu has a lot of skeletons in his cupboard that could come rattling out, if the LPC cared to look for them.

  • Peter Doble says:

    Like a Shakespearian tragedy, the stage produced a classic display of all the best and worst characters of the South African drama in one act.

  • Richard Du Toit says:

    What amuses me is that Dhali thinks he is so intellectually superior and then gets shown up at each public outing.

  • David A says:

    This entire process is turning into a farce…

  • Margaret Harris says:

    A remarkable lady (a real lady of class and quiet serenity) versus an overgrown school bully and the bully lost, showing his frustration in that appalling litany of repeated comments.
    It was pure spite and no pathetic attempt to disguise it could make anyone listening think otherwise.
    To deliberately wound someone in the name of “truth” was like using psychological thumbscrews and here we are vowing to eliminate gender based violence.
    Luckily Prof. Madonsela retained her dignity to the last.
    Professor I applaud you. You give me hope that decency might yet prevail

  • 1957.tonycole says:

    Mpofu has got away with this approach for years. His cheap snide comments are simply unprofessional. He has brought the legal profession into disrepute. It’s time for the LPC to act. Gutter politics at its worst. Professor Madonsela was dignified and regal in her response. Thankfully she showed everyone he is a lowlife guttersnipe.

  • Jennifer Hughes says:

    Professor Madonsela has been one of the few bright lights in politics for many years now and I am so grateful to her, proud to call her one of our own, and terribly sorry that she has been treated in such a disgusting manner. I hope she can feel the love because heaven knows she’s had enough hate thrown her way.

  • Dragon Slayer says:

    Dali Mpofu – no more and no less than a school yard bully and akin to gender abuse / violence. How he was able to use his position to try to manipulate or selectively interpret Madonsela’s testimony is a disgrace. The question is did it cross the line to the point where, like John Hlophe, it brought advocate code of conduct into disrepute?

  • Johan Buys says:

    Like how boxers have a running tab of wins and bouts, advocates should have the same behind their name. For example “Dali Mpofu SC (1 and 30)”


  • Isis Limor says:

    What would you expect when you directly pit the noble versus the ignoble?

  • John Forbes says:

    It is a great pity the Chairman of the Section 194 Committee of the National Assembly does not act a lot more like a good judge and demand relevance with both the witnesses brought and the line of questioning, instead of allowing the irrelevant posturing by Adv Mpofu to carry on ad infinitum. After all this inquiry commenced on 11 July 2022, now almost exactly 8 months ago! Surely, this is not what was envisaged in Section 194 of the SA Constitution?

    What lifeline can Thuli Madonsela possibly throw to Mkhwebane, a woman she had no overlap with during their respective roles as Public Protector? The inquiry is about Mkhwebane not Madonsela!

    Has Mkhwebane, an ex-member of the SSA and by all accounts a subsequent ongoing regular consulter with Fraser’s SSA, not now cost the state more than enough in her quest to prove herself innocence of any misconduct, incapacity or incompetence? Surely, just the court record of the overturning of some of her rulings proves to the contrary?

    All in all, what is this inquiry costing and still to cost the state and how well Mpofu personally doing is doing out of this apparently never ending charade?

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Why does the chair not censor him? I think the chair of this committee has a case to answer.

  • Glyn Silberman says:

    I just want to know how it is that an advocate, as Dali Mpofu apparently is, can get away with the level of interrogation and general behaviour that he indulges in. For example, he told an advocate, during the Zondo Commission, to ‘shut up!’ He was taken to task but got away with it by saying that in his language ‘thula!’ is not disrespectful! Apart from his sheer rudeness and obvious contempt for the law, he wastes endless time of courts, which as we know, are chocked with waiting cases. Perhaps, as he takes on hopeless cases, this is his only means.

  • ir7 says:

    First S.A. female president, she has my admiration and vote.

  • Richard Du Toit says:

    The Mpofu strategy is clear – drag this farce out till the end of her term – He learnt from the best – JZ

  • GPJ GPJ says:

    You’ve got to admire Mpofu. He perfected the art of ‘eating’ (a lot) while losing one case after another, being shown up as ‘low’ and treating people like crap. It seems to me that spinelessness and incompetence is a sought-after trait.
    But in fact, it angers me beyond measure that as a taxpayer I’m paying for this. Respect to adv Madonsela who pointed this out.

  • Notinmyname Fang says:

    Give him hell Thuli

  • Hilary Morris says:

    It would probably help if the poor, infinitely patient Chair of this commission did more to restrain Mpofu – given that he seems immune to any natural laws of decency. Prof Madonsela was not the one on trial, but it is hard to believe that given Mpofu’s abuse and rudeness. He should not be given the leeway of wasting days, weeks and months in what should be a slam-dunk case. Mkwhebane IS incompetent, has lost most her important cases and should not be let loose near any court of law. Why the endless digressions are permitted is inexplicable.

  • J C says:

    Thuli for President!

  • Petrus Kleinhans says:

    Prof Madonsela, you are the only political figure since Biko, Mandela, and Oliver Tambo who has given me hope for South Africa’s future.

  • Basil Skopelitis says:

    Mpofu like Malema are cut from the same cloth, detractors of the truth. Madonsela on the other hand is a shining light for truth.

  • mossie66 says:

    I am a devoted fan of Advocate Thuli Madonsela – she is a person of high intellect, unassailable moral authority and total integrity. All of these attributes are glaringly absent from her legal adversary, who wallows in the mire of insult, slur and indecency. This circus should be terminated without further delay – Mpofu is only playing for time in order to obtain an undeserved pension for Mkhwebane.

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    To all those calling on the LPC to ‘act’ … do not forget that it is probably peopled with cadres (you find them in every nook and cranny of SA!) whose main concern is with their own sense of self importance rather than the protection of the interests of the ‘profession’ . How is it that someone like Busisiwe who on multiple occasions have been found guilty by judges, is still an advocate … let alone Dali ?

  • Stef Viljoen Viljoen says:

    I read through the first part of the comments with delight. Not one person praising or even supporting adv. Mphofu’s behavior. I am SO glad I am not alone in my disgust of it. I am now also starting to notice similarities between his behavior and those of the EFF. I feel pity for his family who must witness this.

  • Hugo Luyt says:

    Distracting the ref, a shot below the belt, elbow to the head, pointing at the ceiling and stamping on the toes…, dirty fighting seems to be the same everywhere.

  • Marlene Stroebel says:

    Please make Madonsela our next president

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


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Become a Maverick Insider

This could have been a paywall

On another site this would have been a paywall. Maverick Insider keeps our content free for all.

Become an Insider
Elections24 Newsletter Banner

On May 29 2024, South Africans will make their mark in another way.

Get your exclusive, in-depth Election 2024 newsletter curated by Ferial Haffajee delivered straight to your inbox.