Desai’s past questioned during Public Protector interview

By Drum Digital
12 August 2016

High Court judge Siraj Desai’s interview for the role of the Public Protector garnered a lot of interest as members of the panel unpacked his past.

By Ayanda Sitole

This raised many questions about his fitness to hold office.

First on the agenda was his rape accusation in 2004 by HIV/Aids activist, Salome Isaacs, who accused him of raping her in a hotel in India. Subsequently, the charges against him were dropped.

Economic Freedom Fighters Deputy President, Floyd Shivambu probed Desai’s ability to handle challenging questions as he kept interjecting when the issue was raised.

“As a judge you should be able to deal with challenging questions and not interject,” says Shivambu. “This questions whether you will be able to handle criticism and dealing questions day to day in the role of Public Protector.”

Democratic Alliance national spokesperson, Phumzile Van Damme questioned whether Desai has the ability to maintain a “cool-head” making reference to several incidences in which he was involved in public spats.

Desai denied each incident. At some point, he called those who had attacked him as “liars”.

Desai went on to paint a picture of himself as having strong struggle credentials and denied that he would be unable to remain independent in his position as Public Protector despite being accused by Shivambu as having links to the ANC.

“I have also acted for uMkhonto weSizwe, and uMbokodo which dismantled the MK,” he says, “I also acted for the Pan African Congress, the United Front and many individuals who did malicious acts against the state. If that is a crime I am guilty because I am proud of my past.”

Interviews are still underway in Parliament for the role of the Public Protector.

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