South Africa: Mkhwebane v Baloyi - Court Dismisses Urgent Application, Says It Does Not Have Jurisdiction to Hear It

12 December 2019

In the battle between Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane by her axed COO, Basani Baloyi, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed an urgent application Baloyi had lodged against her former boss.

Judge Mmonoa Teffo found that the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

"I have considered the cases referred to by the applicant's counsel which he submitted were heard by the high court and the issue of jurisdiction did not arise. The cases are in my view distinguishable," the judge found.

The application was dismissed with costs.

But Baloyi's lawyer Eric Mabuza is considering the next move and told News24 that they were "studying" the judgment.

"We have scheduled urgent meeting with our counsel to consider our options or next move," he added.

'Unlawful' conduct

Mkhwebane dismissed Baloyi in what the former COO believed was a part of a purge because she was "an obstacle to the Public Protector and CEO [Vusi Mahlangu] using their powers for their own personal advancement", News24 previously reported.

Among the relief Baloyi sought was the review and the setting aside of the "unlawful" conduct of Mkhwebane and Mahlangu, as well as a declaratory order that Mkhwebane abused her for "ulterior purposes".

She also sought a personal costs order against them.

Baloyi alleged that Mkhwebane had breached her constitutional duty pertaining to independence and objectivity, illustrated through her "extremely unusual" handling of certain cases.

"In a range of high-profile investigations, the Public Protector has failed to act impartially and independently. In preparing reports, and in the timing of releasing reports, she has abused her office."

These include the investigation into Cyril Ramaphosa's 2017 ANC presidency campaign funding as well as the so-called SARS rogue unit investigation.

Baloyi alleged Mkhwebane and Mahlangu had acted unconstitutionally in dealing with several high-profile investigations "to advance their own personal agendas".

She said this related to the content of the reports and the timing of their release.

Mkhwebane's office has welcomed the latest developments.

"The fact that the court dismissed the application on jurisdiction means the judge - having read the papers and listened to oral arguments - was not convinced that there was any merit to claims of abuse of power and abuse of office. Had the court found there was merit to the claims, it would not have dismissed the matter," Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said in a statement on Thursday.

Source: News24

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