South Africa


Lawyerless Mkhwebane questions ‘absurd’ R4m legal lifeline as impeachment probe starts 22-day countdown

Lawyerless Mkhwebane questions ‘absurd’ R4m legal lifeline as impeachment probe starts 22-day countdown
Suspended Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane during the Section 194 Impeachment Inquiry into her fitness to hold office on 8 May 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

A ‘surplus’ of R4-million ring-fenced to cover Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s legal expenses for her Section 194 impeachment inquiry was ‘absurd’, the suspended Public Protector said on Monday.

As her impeachment inquiry resumed after a week-long hiatus, Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s legal woes were once again the focus and cause of further delay.

The suspended Public Protector will have four days to complete her evidence as the hearing hurtles towards its deadline in 22 days’ time. In the meantime, she remains unrepresented.

In a letter to the committee, Mkhwebane argued she needed more time to rustle up a legal team, although she also said, “I am not sure as to where I will get a legal team that will agree to your unrealistic and absurd terms dictating the work to be undertaken…”

And, she warned, should Advocate Dali Mpofu and the rest of her team not be willing to return for “peanuts”, an entirely new legal team would have to go through the 65,000-page record. 

In 22 days. Hands up any takers?

Mkhwebane maintains that while the Constitutional Court ordered that she be legally represented during her impeachment hearing, questions of who should pay and how much, have been left open.

On Monday, Mkhwebane opted to attend her hearing in person as committee chair, Qubudile Dyantyi, had unceremoniously “muted” her during her last virtual appearance.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Kangaroo court’ — Muted Mkhwebane in a flap over impeachment inquiry

Swings and roundabouts

In an act of apparent cosmic symmetry, the R4-million now made available by Treasury to the Office of the Public Protector SA (PPSA) tallies more or less with the amount the Chapter 9 institution forked out on rent for Mkhwebane during her tenure.

She moved into the luxury ​​Bryntirion ministerial estate in Pretoria between 2017 and 2022 and only moved out when the media exposed the grift.

Mkhwebane’s rent was paid to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, which is responsible for the estate and other government buildings.

Mkhwebane has ripped an almost R30-million hole in legal fees in the PPSA’s budget.

In the meantime, she managed to find resources to launch on 5 May an urgent application to the Constitutional Court for uncapped funding for her defence at the inquiry. She is of the opinion the state should foot the bill entirely.

Mkhwebane also asked the court to review the six days the committee met in her absence for evidence to be led, and also claimed that the inquiry had “consequentially and irretrievably collapsed and ought, accordingly, to be nullified”.

She also complained that the four days allocated to her were inadequate.

Mkhwebane also let it be known that she intended to lodge a complaint with the Judicial Service Commission against the Constitutional Court for “undue delay” in making its ruling.

The court is yet to rule on her application to rescind her suspension by President Ramaphosa. It sat in November 2022, when it reserved judgment.

The show goes on

The R4-million now made available, said Dyantyi, was “all there is” and the committee would resume its work. 

ACDP MP Marie Sukers said that more than R26-million had been spent so far on Mkhwebane and “I think we have extended fairness to the Public Protector until now”.

She added that it could not be ignored that “there is the issue of fairness to the South African taxpayer”.

Dyantyi said Mkhwebane was welcome to approach the Constitutional Court, but this could not be regarded as an “interdict”. She was “exercising her right”, but there was no impediment to the committee proceeding.

The hearing was postponed for a week to allow Mkhwebane to find legal representation. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johan Buys says:

    She is an advocate promoted to one of the top legal positions in the country on the basis of her skill and experience. Why can she not represent herself?

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    What an idiot to boot! Her arrogance and sense of entitlement is so typical of her RET ilk! Severely abuse and trash the system for her own nefarious ends, both from a financial and legal point of view. Frustrate, obfuscate, delay and deny justice with for years on end with despicable and immoral clowns like Mpofu, and then cry foul when things don’t go her way and her shenanigans catch up with her. Taxpayer money is the ATM which always gives according to her and her RET thieves and just about everybody in the anc. Make her personally liable for her legal fees – it should be the norm going forward and there will soon be a very quick end to the circus that justice in our country has become.

  • Miles Japhet says:

    She and Zuma are peas in a pod with their Stalingrad tactics. The common denominator is Dali Mpofu.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    This was dealt with in an amateur way from the start. There was no obligation to pay her legal fees at all and certsinly not in any an
    amount Mpofu et al invoiced. At best the office should have offered a maximum contributions from the outset.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Do not go gentle into that good night, rage rage urk.

  • Richard Bryant says:

    The high court ruled only that she had a right to legal representation at the enquiry. That doesn’t mean that she has to have legal representation, but the ball is in her court to find representation and funding. She’s now got extra R24k funding so if she doesn’t appointment counsel by the time the commission resumes, that’s her problem. They should subpoena her to be there regardless and continue with their work.

    Giving her an open cheque book would ensure every line of the 65000 pages of hearings would be appealed, one by one. In any event Mpofu made a meal of the so called piffling R26m (she should remember, this is taxpayer money), spending excruciatingly long hours grandstanding and using the time to make political speeches, so maybe get someone to estimate the time Mpofu spent on actual legal questions and tell him he’s been way overpaid already and to get on with it.

  • David Amato says:

    The amount of money waste of this exercise is mind boggling.

  • Agf Agf says:

    Don’t let anyone forget that it the DA and only the DA who opposed her appointment in the first place. Even the EFF approved it.

  • If Gerrie Nel were to be institute a class action suit against Adv. Busi and friends for the costs paid by tax payers, knowing Afriforum the Bryntirion costs would be included… it’s not a far conclusion to believe there’d be a serious groundswell of support in terms of small contributions towards the effort from all corners of the country. Hashtag popcorn time as the twitterati would say.

  • Gerrie Pretorius says:

    This enquiry has been a complete waste of time and taxpayers money. This woman has been found guilty by almost every court, from the magistrates court to the high court to the appeal court and the constitutional court. Just fire her!!! Oh, I forgot, she is an anc deployee …

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Total waste of tax payers money that is what she is

  • kerryvs says:

    It is so blatantly obvious that her & her legal team, headed by Mpofu, are using Stalingrad tactics & to delay, delay, delay. Their arrogance & obstructiveness to the committee’s inquiry is an absolute disgrace & she should not be allowed to get away with it. Firstly why should tax payers fund her frivolous, unwinnable court cases, & secondly, if you were innocent, why wouldn’t you want to testify & clear your name? Instead they come up with one thing after the other to delay the process the likes of the EFF, ATM, UDM, ‘Good’ party, among others, constantly side with her to protect her & prevent her from explaining herself. They are making a mockery of our democracy & should be held to account. Let the money that she’s wanted be recovered & put back into the fiscus to be used for people who need education & housing!

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