South Africa: It's Judgment Day for the Public Protector

Seats of the Constitutional Court (file photo).

SA's apex court is set to deliver judgment in a crucial case that may not only influence how governmental investigative units conduct their probes, but will determine the future of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and influence proceedings in some of her contentious reports.

The Constitutional Court will on Monday 22 July deliver judgment on whether Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane must pay 15% of the Reserve Bank (SARB's) legal fees de bonis propriis - Latin for "out of her own pocket".

Mkhwebane had asked direct access to the Constitutional Court in April 2018 to set aside a High Court judgment which found she was biased and did not fully understand her constitutional duty to be impartial and to perform her functions without fear, favour or prejudice.

The case before the court has its roots in Mkhwebane's 2017 decision that the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) must recoup R1.125-billion from Absa after the Reserve Bank in the apartheid years gave an illegal "lifeboat" to the bank's predecessor, Bankorp.

(Neither the merits of this "lifeboat", nor Mkhwebane's actual findings are before the Constitutional Court. Mkhwebane's recommendations were reviewed and set aside by the High Court in 2018. It is Mkhwebane's conduct in this investigation...

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