Parliament, Friday, 26 August 2022 – The Committee for Section 194 Enquiry into Public Protector (PP) Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office today reiterated its unbiasness and Committee Chairperson Mr Qubudile Dyantyi said it has no predetermined outcome on the enquiry.

His comments follow a complaint by Adv Dali Mpofu (SC) on behalf the the PP at the start of today’s proceedings. Adv Mpofu addressed the Constitutional Court's dismissal of the PP's bid to seek a rescission of the dismissal of her application for a rescission of its ruling that the rules governing the committee process were lawful. Adv Mpofu said Parliament and Mr Dyantyi sought to alert the Western Cape High Court about the Constitutional Court's ruling, in what he said was an effort to influence that court's pending ruling on Mkhwebane's urgent challenge to her suspension by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

At the close of today’s proceedings Mr Dyantyi said in response it was due to the application by the PP, naming the committee chairperson as the second respondent, that he had to supply an affidavit. He said the affidavit dealt with a factual matter, not with the merits before the committee. “I do not believe the filing of the affidavit or involvement in the litigation started by the Public Protector constitutes bias on my part. My involvement in the litigation was occasioned by the PP herself” added Mr Dyantyi.

Earlier in the day the committee heard that Mr Paul Ngobeni, a former advisor to former minister of Human Settlement Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, and a “fugitive of Justice” in the US advised the PP to sue government over insufficient funding. This was according to email evidence produced by evidence leader, Adv Nazreen Bawa (SC) during the testimony of Mr Thembinkosi Muntu Sithole, Manager, Legal Services at the Office of the Public Protector.

Documents and invoices produced at the enquiry further revealed that the PP paid Mr Ngobeni R87 000 to write an opinion article critising former Finance Minister Tito Mboweni claiming it’s an unwarranted attack on her following the SARB/CIEX report. “Effectively Mr Ngobeni got paid for publishing articles on websites," said Adv Bawa. She also produced documents to prove that Mr Ngobeni was paid by the PP to draft articles in defense of what the PP deemed as political attacks that were published on an online news website. Mr Sithole however insisted that Mr Ngobeni provided opinions.

Mr Sithole testified that he never met Mr Ngobeni and never spoke to him in person. He confirmed that Mr Ngobeni is not a member of the Bar or a senior counsel. Adv Bawa revealed to the enquiry that Mr Ngobeni provided a "legal opinion" related to President Cyril Ramaphosa's CR17 investigation. This opinion was then transferred onto the letterhead of Seanego Attorneys. Mr Sithole agreed that this is not normal as advocates normally provide their own opinions on their own letterheads.

Adv Bawa further led evidence regarding two legal teams which the PP would have used regarding the Vrede Dairy matter. Mr Sithole told the committee Adv Mkhwebane would have been aware that a number of draft Vrede reports had been excluded from the Rule 53 record. Adv Bawa enquired why two sets of lawyers were appointed to act on behalf of the PP in the Vrede case to which Mr Sithole said that the advocate in the case, Advocate Vuyani Ngalwana, had stated that he could not address arguments from both the DA and CASAC. Adv Bawa pointed out that the use of two sets of counsel was criticised by Judge Ronel Tolmay, especially since the PP had claimed that financial constraints had limited her ability to properly investigate the Vrede Project.

Adv Bawa also questioned whether it could not create a perception of bias if an organisation who raised funds for the PP’s personal cost orders later lodged a complaint and they are put first in line at the Office of the PP. Mr Sithole agreed and said hypothetically, this could be a problem for the Office of the PP.

The hearing will continue next Thursday. Committee documents can be found at: Committee for Section 194 Enquiry - Parliament of South Africa


For media enquiries or interviews, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Rajaa Azzakani (Ms)
Tel: 021 403 8437
Cell: 081 703 9542