South Africa: Perjury Charges - Public Protector's Alleged Lies to Court in the Spotlight

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane (file photo).

The Public Protector was given an unexpected lift by the Constitutional Court this week as a ruling warned against the tendency to award personal costs orders against her -- but it also smacked down her lawyer Dali Mpofu for advising her to lie to the court. There's more bad news along the same lines for Busisiwe Mkhwebane, as news broke that she will be facing perjury charges in court in early 2021.

More than once, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been accused of lying to the courts. The issue raised its head again this week in a Constitutional Court ruling which in other respects was favourable to Mkhwebane.

The question at the heart of the latest Constitutional Court judgment was whether the South African Revenue Services (Sars) could withhold former president Jacob Zuma's tax information on the grounds that taxpayers' information is protected under the Tax Administration Act, or whether the Public Protector had the right to access that information by means of her subpoena powers, as she maintained.

A high court judgment on the matter previously found that the protection of taxpayer information was part of the constitutional right to privacy, and "serves the important purpose of encouraging voluntary...

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