Parliament, Monday, 26 June 2023 – The Chairperson of the Committee for Section 194 Enquiry into Public Protector (PP) Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office today reaffirmed that the committee is sticking to its revised way forward, as the PP now has the funds and access to an instructing attorney to brief her counsel. Accordingly, the PP was provided with written questions to respond to, as per the timetable of steps previously communicated to her.

Committee Chairperson Mr Qubudile Dyantyi said: “Whilst all members were invited to submit questions, not all members availed themselves of the opportunity to do so. Written questions by Members of the committee, who wished to do so, was due by 21 June 2023. The deadline for evidence leaders to provide questions was yesterday, which they met.”

Mr Dyantyi indicated that the committee received questions from 12 Members from five political parties represented in the committee. These questions concerned both Part A and Part B of Adv Mkhwebane’s statement to the committee about the charges in the motion. These questions, together with those from evidence leaders, were sent to Adv Mkhwebane’s legal team, Chaane Attorneys, last night. The Chairperson reiterated that the secretariat and evidence leaders will make themselves available to assist Adv Mkhwebane and her team to locate any record she may require for the purpose of responding. There has been and remains no denial of access to legal assistance, Mr Dyantyi said, and there is therefore no impediment preventing the answering of the written questions.

The Chairperson made these comments after the committee heard that the Public Protector’s counsel has not yet been briefed by Chaane Attorneys. Chaane Attorneys indicated that they will not do so until they have familiarised themselves with the record and the issue of who will bear any costs that may be incurred beyond the further R4 million that has been allocated to the Public Protector. Mr Dyantyi reminded Adv Mkhwebane that as previously pointed out, legal representatives cannot answer questions on the Public Protector’s behalf and the subject matter of the motion lies within her personal knowledge. In addition, the questions are in written form and are to be answered in writing rather than orally in hearings (the PP has not made herself available to respond orally). Accordingly, the role of counsel will be more limited (and that of the attorney even more so) than one would expect in an oral hearing.

Mr Dyantyi said that Adv Mkhwebane is required to respond in writing to the questions by no later than 6 July 2023. “As previously indicated, if she does not respond to the questions, the committee reserves the right to continue with its remaining programme.”

Last week Adv Mkhwebane missed two deadlines. She was due to notify the committee by Monday, 19 June, whether she would respond to questions in writing or orally. Furthermore, Adv Mkhwebane was granted another opportunity, until 22 June, to submit any additional affidavits or documentation in support of Part B of her statement or in relation to the evidence leaders’ presentation to the committee on Part A of her statement to the extent that there is a part that was not addressed in her oral evidence or written statement. While her attorney of record indicated that the new timelines are “irrelevant, meaningless and of no legal force and effect” they confirmed they will be issuing a limited brief to counsel for the purpose of bringing a recusal application against the Chairperson. Dyantyi has confirmed he will deal with this when it is submitted.

The committee was established on 16 March 2021 to conduct a constitutional inquiry into the PP’s fitness to hold office. The committee is expected to finalise its work on 28 July 2023. Committee documents can be found at Committee for Section 194 Enquiry - Parliament of South Africa


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