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Mkhwebane misses inquiry deadlines while lawyer bounces back after sudden hospitalisation

Mkhwebane misses inquiry deadlines while lawyer bounces back after sudden hospitalisation
Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane speaks to advocate Dali Mpofu during the parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has missed two Section 194 impeachment inquiry deadlines as her self-created legal quagmire continues. In the meantime, the inquiry is continuing its work ‘irrespective’ of Mkhwebane’s stance.

Section 194 Inquiry chair Qubudile Dyantyi announced on Friday, 23 June that Busiswiwe Mkhwebane had missed the revised process deadlines, which means that the inquiry hums along, but all in writing.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Mkhwebane’s R10m payday only months away while impeachment inquiry silently continues

“Adv Mkhwebane was due to notify the committee by Monday, 19 June 2023 whether she would be responding to questions in writing or orally,” said Dyanti. The following deadline of 22 June was also missed, he said.

All about the money

Behind the scenes Mkhwebane, through her “attorneys of record”, Hope Chaane – who seems to have recovered after sudden hospitalisation in early June – has been negotiating terms of engagement.

Dyanti noted that Mkhwebane had written that the R4-million set aside for her legal fees was “insufficient” and that her attorneys also needed time to come to grips with the behemoth of a case. This was after the hospital spell and all.

The chair noted that “their [Chaane’s] services were terminated by the Office of the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) after a sick note which indicated that Mr Hope Chaane was booked off sick indefinitely”.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘Death’s door’ and rumour mongering — pop-up obstacles drain Mkhwebane impeachment inquiry

The services of the State Attorneys were then obtained for Mkhwebane, at no cost, but were rejected on the basis of a “patent conflict of interest”, said Dyantyi.

Mkhwebane had complained that the timelines set by Dyantyi were “unrealistic” and Chaane Attorneys, too, had written to the committee to point out that “Mkhwebane was never requested to make an input on the substance of the deadlines and the deadlines”.

These were therefore “not enforceable”.

Everything but the kitchen sink

There are a variety of government departments which have been drawn into the drama, said Dyantyi, but in spite of efforts by these – the PPSA, the Solicitor-General, the State Attorney and the committee – to secure legal assistance, the process was in limbo at her end of the swamp.

“Neither her [Mkhwebane] nor Chaane Attorneys appear to be willing to take the necessary steps to brief the counsel to deal with the outstanding merits of the impeachment inquiry,” said Dyantyi.

It was “mischievous” and “egregious” to complain that R4-million was not enough, said Dyantyi, “when no efforts have been made to reduce expenditure and, quite to the contrary, it appears that wasteful costs are incurred in the form of perusal fees in circumstances where such is unnecessary as her counsel is steeped in the matter”.

There was no evidence that the money would not be sufficient, said Dyantyi and despite “all the obstacles which sometimes have the effect of side-tracking the committee, at the heart of this process is that the committee is duty-bound to hold your client to account vis-à-vis the serious charges in the motion”, he said.

This was not a task to be taken lightly, he said, adding that, “I refuse to conduct the proceedings in a manner which ignores that Parliament has a constitutional function that it must perform in relation to the motion.”

The committee’s programme would continue, he said, and Mkhwebane was to receive her written questions by 25 June.

“She is once again urged to ensure that she avails the necessary resources at her disposal to assist her.” DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Peter Doble says:

    It’s staggering how often sudden sickness invades the courtroom and the waving of large amounts of mostly public money creates a Lazarus revival. Is there any chance of a protracted, expensive and useless judicial commission to investigate this phenomenon?

  • William Kelly says:

    He has made a miraculous recovery. This is good news indeed. Pity he was terminated. Still. One cannot replace one’s health and we have seen several miracles in this regard. Schaik and Zuma spring to mind. God blesses us, sometimes in ways we simply don’t understand.

  • dbanks976 says:

    Suggestion: Payment for her legal representatives should be deducted from the R10M she’ll receive as she is dragging her feet to get this money.

    • Jane Hohls says:

      Excellent suggestion. She has mostly been ineffective in her time in the office of Public Protector. Her own behaviour hasn’t given us, the citizens – any glimmer of hope that Justice really is the end result we are hoping for. Ms Mkhwebane is procrastinating until her tenure is over and if by then she hasn’t been thrown out, the money was the aim all along? Oh now naive do you think we all are! Ms Mkhwebane – your behaviour is an insult to all the citizens of RSA.

  • Rob vZ says:

    What was this about again ? I fell asleep a few months ago.
    What is the point of an “independent” judiciary when it can be tied up in endless tax-payer funded litigation and endless appeals. Who does this benefit? Lawyers of course. Give her the pension and put us out of our misery.

  • Steve Davidson says:

    So, the brain transplant was successful on the lawyer? God, I hope so, because there’s a distinct lack of it across the whole of the ‘defence’ side!

  • Hilary Morris says:

    Oh please! Does anyone seriously believe that Mkhwebane has any intention of playing nicely? Millions and millions of taxpayers rands when all that was necessary was a review of the court decisions against her, together with the views expressed by Concourt judges. Boot her out and none of this circus relevant. Mpofu millions richer, increasingly arrogant and a blot on the legal landscape.

  • Deon Botha-Richards says:

    I still don’t understand why an advocate needs expensive legal representation. Surely the advocate can act in their own defence?

    Or does she doubt her own legal capacity? Which is at the heart of this enquiry.

  • Brian Doyle says:

    Her legal fees and costs relating to this impeachment inquiry should be deducted from her payout at the termination of her contract. She is drawing it out until then

  • Ernest Esterhuizen says:

    Chain her up with Putin and walk away from where they are left. She is a disgrace for someone who claims that God put her there. Is the same God then too weak to remove her? There is definitely a god involved, but it’s a god of disrespect, arrogance and destruction. The lawyers representing her should be equally ashamed. I work hard and then my tax gets openly abused like that. I have no say at all.

  • bushtrack says:

    The Section 194 Committee has to decide whether Me Mkhwebane is fit for the position as PP. She has to show she is indeed fit for the position to enable her to collect the contractual R10 million at the end of her contract period in October 2023. Knowing that she can provide very little evidence about this fact, she has chosen to attack the committee members about their suitability and/or neutrality. Playing for time. Incurring legal fees costing the taxpayer much more than the R10 million she is fighting for.
    It is now time for the Committee to say “No more. No more frivolous delaying tactics. Provide the evidence to show how suitable, efficient and non-partisan you were. If it is strong enough none of the Committee members will be able to dispute these facts, which are the reason for this enquiry.“

  • Gregory Scott says:

    Spot on dbanks976
    Mkhwebane’s legal fees have been funded by taxpayers’ money to date.
    This being the case and should costs be awarded against her, the sum of Mkwebane’s legal fees should be clawed back from her in her personal capacity.
    Perhaps the R10M should be withheld in the state coffers pending finalisation of the legal fees and other ‘hidden costs’?
    This should discourage government employees from the use of Stalingrad tactics in our courts.

  • Kerry van Schalkwyk says:

    Her behaviour, initiated & supported by her incompetent & arrogant counsel, Mpofu, is absolutely outrageous & they should both be sanctioned by the JSC for gross misconduct. The fact that tax-payers have to foot the bill for this impeachment committee is a travesty of justice. The mind just boggles that these people are allowed to get away with this kind of blatant disregard of their duties & obligations as a public servant.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Expecting the JSC to actually do something responsible … like revoking the license of one who has and continues to bring the practice into disrepute .. is too much to ask for !

  • Allan Dando says:

    What a joke!!!

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    The impeachment of the Public Protector by the useless parliament that has failed to hold the executive to account is the most serious attack on the South African democracy by the ANC and DA cheque collectors. The use of court judgements to impeach her is to prevent any future Public Protector from doing investigations on the President and Ministers who will take the findings and recommendations on review and instruct their MPs to impeach the Public Protector. Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC is intent on opening a freeway to corruption. The worst thing is the use of court judgements for this process and the fact that the judiciary is complicit in the destruction of the only institution that has held the Executive to account. Zondo and the judiciary are charged with being complicit as the committee proceeds to bury the institution. These are the people who are unable to hold the executive to account yet have a temerity to call themselves as people who are holding a defenceless person to account. They are nothing but thugs intent to open a freeway to corruption including the DA. The saddest part, is the support of this charade by the former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela. The Public Protector is leaving in a few months time regardless of the outcomes. The damage done to the institution can be seen with Gcaleka and Phala Phala. We are going to be left to the useless parliament that allowed state capture and continues to overlook the Executive. The Public Protector has been killed.

    • Derek Hebbert says:

      I like how Cunningham manages to somehow blame the DA for this fiasco (as usual). Nice try but no cigar. How is this woman defenceless. She has proved herself incompetent over and over and this enquiry is a joke. She should have just been fired.

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