Court Troubles Mount for Embattled South African Public Protector
More than once, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been accused of lying to the courts, writes Rebecca Davis for Daily Maverick. The issue raised its head again in a Constitutional Court ruling which examined 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.
This comes as Mkhwebane faces an appearance in the Pretoria Regional Court in January 2021 on perjury charges, after a criminal case was opened at the Hillbrow police station by Accountability Now head Paul Hoffman in August 2019. Hoffman laid the charges based on the findings of the Constitutional Court in the Public Protector v South African Reserve Bank matter in November 2018. That judgment was scathing about the conduct of Mkhwebane in investigating the Reserve Bank's bailout of apartheid bank Bankorp between 1985 and 1991.
The Constitutional Court found that Mkhwebane had failed to explain why she had not disclosed any of the meetings she carried out with Jacob Zuma in the course of investigating the Bankorp matter, and that Mkhwebane had "put forward a number of falsehoods in the course of litigation".
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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane (file photo).