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Urgent court bid by Dipuo Peters to stop her suspension from Parliament fails

Urgent court bid by Dipuo Peters to stop her suspension from Parliament fails
Members and supporters of #UniteBehind outside Parliament in August 2022 when they laid an official complaint to the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests. (Archive photo: James Stent)

The ANC MP was sanctioned by Parliament for state capture breaches while she was Minister of Transport.

ANC MP Dipuo Peters has failed in her urgent high court bid to block her suspension from Parliament, imposed last year as censure for State Capture breaches while she was the Minister of Transport.

Western Cape high court Acting Judge Mushahida Adhikari said neither her urgent application nor her intended review of the decision had any merit and would effectively result in Peters serving no sanction which would be a breach of the separation of powers.

The judge dismissed the entire application (the urgent interdict and the pending review) ordering Peters to pay the legal costs of #UniteBehind and the Speaker of the National Assembly, which had both opposed her application.

Peters, now the Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, was suspended from her seat in all parliamentary debates, sittings, committee meetings, functions and operations for one term of the parliamentary programme beginning this week until the end of March.

This after the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members Interests, acting on a complaint by #UniteBehind, found that she had been neglectful in her previous portfolio as transport minister by failing to appoint a group CEO of Prasa, had irrationally dismissed the Prasa board chaired by Popo Molefe (seemingly because it had uncovered R14-million in irregular expenditure), and had authorised the use of Prasa buses for ANC events with payment from the party.

Judge Adhikari heard the urgent application on Friday and handed down her ruling on Monday morning, dismissing the application.

Read the judgment here.

The judge questioned why Peters had only launched the urgent application in January this year, giving the respondents only four days to file opposing papers, even though she had conceded that the application was “ready” in mid-December 2023.

“#UniteBehind quite fairly asks why, despite the fact that the applicant was ready on 17 December, it was not brought to the attention of the respondents until it was served on or about 10 January.

“The applicant states that there was no obligation on her or her legal team to advise the respondents that the papers were ready.

“Her stance is quite unfortunate. She would have suffered no prejudice if a copy of the unissued, yet finalised application had been provided to the respondents on 17 December.

“The informal exchange of papers at the earliest possible opportunity in urgent proceedings of this nature, where the papers are voluminous and where issues of some degree of complexity are raised, is not an uncommon practice and is to be encouraged,” Judge Adhikari said.

“The respondents’ complaint that they have been prejudiced by her failure to set a reasonable timetable is well made. It was manifestly unreasonable.”

The judge said if she were to grant the interim interdict, by the time the review was heard, the sanction period would have expired, rendering any review “moot”.

“The effect of granting an interim interdict would render the sanction negatory for all intents and purposes. I am, in effect, being asked to grant an order that would have the effect of setting aside the sanction imposed by the National Assembly.

“There is no basis in law for me to grant such relief.

“Further, the effect has serious implications for the separation of powers. A court is effectively being asked to grant an order that would undermine and render negatory a sanction imposed by another branch of government exercising its constitutionally mandated oversight powers in the absence of any legal basis for such interference,” Judge Adhikari said. DM

First published by GroundUp.

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