Parliament, Thursday, 1 December 2022 – The Committee for Section 194 Enquiry into Public Protector (PP) Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office today heard evidence from Mr Mulao Lamula, the provincial representative of the Western Cape at the Office of the PP.

Mr Lamula, giving evidence in support of the PP, told the committee that he joined the Office of the PP as a senior investigator in 2017. According to his affidavit: “I am of the firm view that some of the evidence has grossly misrepresented the situation at the PP's office, the nature and purpose of the relevant meetings and the intentions and objectives of the PP. I disagree with some of the evidence given on these topics.”

Mr Lamula however, agreed with witnesses who testified that Adv Mkhwebane is hardworking and dedicated to her work. He said the dashboard meetings – which many previous witnesses complained about - were intimidating and scary but was also a learning experience where staff, after time, got used to what is required of them.

He told the committee that prior to joining the Office of the PP, he worked with Adv Mkhwebane at the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) where she initiated measures and systems to deal with the “massive” backlogs there. Mr Lamula described their work at the DHA as “voluminous”. His responsibility was to deal with asylum applications.

Responding to a question from Adv Dali Mpofu, SC, regarding managing backlogs, Mr Lamula said “She was there in the fight against backlogs.” According to his affidavit, “Like all human beings, Adv Mkhwebane has her shortcomings but she has done an excellent service to the people of South Africa. To even associate her with incompetence is a grave concern. She is more than competent for the job of Public Protector.”

During questions from evidence leader Adv Nazreen Bawa, SC, the committee heard that Mr Lamula worked under Adv Mkhwebane's unit from 2005 to 2006 at the DHA. According to him that however did not mean that his interaction with her stopped at that point. Mr Lamula confirmed that he started at the PP in June 2017 and was promoted to Western Cape representative in March this year. He confirms that his affidavit is drafted from his own experiences.

During further questioning by Adv Bawa, Mr Lamula said there has been a gross misrepresentation that deadlines were imposed, that the PP wanted to be worshiped and the issue that they compromised quality for quantity – as per the testimony of previous witnesses. Adv Bawa further stated that the evidence was that staff would ask for an extension, but it was not granted. Mr Lamula did not agree with this. “There was no imposition of deadlines. I never experienced a situation where deadlines were imposed. It was a suggested deadline,” he maintained.

Adv Bawa wanted to know from him if it was realistic to give complainants feedback every six weeks if an investigator had 50 cases, to which Mr Lamula said it is possible.
Mr Lamula conceded that he never saw the motion before the committee nor has he made input into any of the court matters that form part of the charges against the PP. He further agreed that he would be concerned if reports were issued without being peer reviewed, which some witnesses claimed was the case in order to finalise matters.

Later, during questions by Members, he said he was taken through the charge sheet in preparation for his testimony. Several Members also questioned the relevance of his testimony in relation to the charges in the motion before the committee.

Committee Chairperson Mr Qubudile Dyantyi said the committee will continue with its hearings on Monday. The committee was established by the National Assembly on 16 March 2021 to conduct a constitutional inquiry into the Public Protector’s fitness to hold office. Committee documents can be found at Committee for Section 194 Enquiry - Parliament of South Africa


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