It may not be the end of Nkandla report court battle – state

2013-11-15 12:10

The legal tussle between Cabinet’s security cluster and Public Protector Thuli Madonsela could be back in court depending on how Madonsela treats the Nkandla report going forward, the state has said.

Mthunzi Mhaga, the spokesperson for Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, who heads the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster, said despite the cluster dropping its interdict application against Madonsela today, the state could still consider legal action depending on how Madonsela uses information related to the security of President Jacob Zuma and the state.

“How the Public Protector, moving forward, is to deal with the submissions we would’ve made will determine whether we will explore any legal avenues moving forward,” said Mhaga.

The state agreed to foot the legal bill for the court action when the matter came before the North Gauteng High Court this morning.

Mhaga said the state dropped the application – which sought to prevent the release of Madonsela’s interim report on upgrades to Zuma’s Nkandla home – because it had achieved what it wanted to by being allowed to study the Nkandla report until today to make submissions on whether any contents of the report compromise Zuma’s security or that of the state.

He said government did not want to “put the cart before the horse” about how Madonsela would treat its submissions on security concerns.

“We’ve always indicated that if there are concerns that we are not comfortable with [in Madonsela’s report] we will always look forward to or explore any legal avenue that is available to us.

“But it is important for everyone to always realise that we affirm our support for the mandate of the Public Protector – for the mandate and duties that are enshrined in the Constitution because we are dealing with a constitutionally-established structure here, which is the Public Protector,” said Mhaga.

Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said the legal battle, which has been widely viewed as an attempt by government to block Madonsela’s report, was unfortunate.

But Mhaga said the ministers would continue to respect Madonsela’s work and would cooperate in all her investigations in future.

Asked whether the relationship between ministers and Madonsela had turned sour since both parties accused each other of misleading the court and the public about what had transpired during the Nkandla probe, Mhaga said he did not see why there should be “issues” between Madonsela and the cluster of ministers.

“It is important to release that in any litigation there will be legal disputes and factual disputes. We were dealing with the issue of factual disputes here. But it doesn’t take away the fact that running up to this (court) process there had been a good interactive relationship with the office of the Public Protector,” said Mhaga.

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