Parliament, Wednesday, 30 November 2022 – The Committee for Section 194 Enquiry into Public Protector (PP) Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office today continued to hear from the first witness called by the PP, Mr Freddie Nyathela, president of the South African Roadies Association (SARA).

SARA is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of skills and knowledge among youth in the technical sector of sound and production. Mr Nyathela explained how this sector can provide jobs and opportunities to the black youth but has not received the full support of government. Yesterday Mr Nyathela testified about a complaint SARA laid with the Office of the PP under Adv Lawrence Mushwana, which continued under Adv Thuli Madonsela until finally resolved after 11 years under Adv Mkhwebane.

Today he went into further detail about several complaints SARA lodged with the office of the PP under three different Public Protectors. These included complaints levelled against the National Arts Council, the National Treasury, Presidency, Speaker of the National Assembly, Auditor-General and the Hawks - as well as the Public Protector. Mr Nyathela expressed his gratitude and faith in Adv Mkhwebane for resolving his complaint within months after taking over. He further complained about specific staff at the Office of the PP. He was of the view that no one is more competent for the job than Adv Mkwhebane.

Evidence Leader, Adv Nazreen Bawa, SC explained to Mr Nyathela that her role is to put evidence related to the motion before the committee. She then took Mr Nyathela through the charges in the motion but he indicated that he has not seen the motion and was not aware of the content.
Mr Nyathela confirmed further that he does not have any personal knowledge of the CIEX/Reserve Bank matter or the Vrede Dairy Farm matter or any of the litigation matters referred to in the motion. Adv Bawa asked Mr Nyathela about the incompetence charge against Adv Mkhwebane, which alleges that she lacks the knowledge and experience to do her job. He says he disputes this and stresses that his experience of her demonstrated the opposite.
He told the committee that Adv Mkhwebane is competent based on his experience with her and in relation to his dealings with previous PPs. He conceded that he would not be able to comment on her alleged incompetence in the Reserve Bank and Vrede investigations. He is also not aware of alleged intimidation and harassment by Adv Mkhwebane, or her alleged failure to protect staff from such harassment.
The committee heard that Mr Nyathela has "no knowledge" about the alleged fruitless and wasteful litigation pursued under Adv Mkhwebane's leadership. He also has no knowledge of the various cases that are under investigation in relation to that charge, but said he has read about certain of these matters in the media. Furthermore, Mr Nyathela also has no personal knowledge about the CR17 matter.
Members commended Mr Nyathela for his good work in skills development amongst the youth but some questioned the relevance of the evidence to the mandate of the committee. Committee Chairperson Mr Qubudile Dyantyi said the committee will continue tomorrow with the evidence of the new witness. 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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