The Public Protector’s office said that Monday’s Constitutional Court ruling against Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane would set a precedent for all other Public Protectors.
The apex court upheld the High Court order that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane personally pay for 15% of the South African Reserve Bank’s legal fees in the Bankorp bailout matter.
In 2017, the Public Protector ordered the Special Investigating Unit to recover more than R1 billion on behalf of the central bank from Absa Bank but this report and its remedial action was reviewed and set aside last year.
The High Court ruling, which has been confirmed by the apex court, said that Mkhwebane conducted herself in bad faith and submitted numerous falsehoods to the court.
In the scathing majority judgment, Justice Sisi Khampepe said that Mkhwebane’s conduct warranted the personal costs order against her.
The Public Protector’s office said that it had “the utmost respect for the judiciary as one of the pillars on which our constitutional democracy rests. This will set a precedent for all other Public Protectors. It is not clear how we will be able to do our work without fear, favour or prejudice going forward.”
It further added that while it was the majority judgment that mattered, “we take solace in the fact that there were dissenting views among the judges. This tells us that there were some among the esteemed Constitutional Court judges who saw things from our perspective. We will study the judgment.”
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