Public Protector 'touched' by fundraising initiative to help pay costs

Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane  (Phill Magakoe/ The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane (Phill Magakoe/ The Times/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is "touched" by an organisation's decision to raise funds to cover the recent cost order made against her.

This after the Constitutional Court upheld a personal costs order made against her following an earlier ruling by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. The High Court found previously that Mkhwebane be held personally liable for part of the Reserve Bank's legal fees after the two squared off in court over her Absa/Bankorp report. In that judgment, Mkhwebane's report was set aside and she was ordered to cough up. She later appealed the outcome, but in a damning judgment last month, the ConCourt ruled that the personal cost order be upheld and Mkhwebane was ordered to pay 15% of the Reserve Bank's fees while her office paid the remainder.

Shortly after the judgment, Mkhwebane said that the personal cost order against her could weaken her office and that it set a "bad precedent". 

It is not yet known how much money she will need to fork out, but legal experts say Mkhwebane is likely to pay hundreds of thousands of rands.

Civil society organisation, Democracy in Action, has however started raising funds to help Mkhwebane pick up the hefty tab.

It is also making use of crowdfunding platform "Thundafund" to spread its message. In its statement on Thundafund, the organisation says the ConCourt's ruling is "unfortunate" and sets the wrong precedent for Mkhwebane, other Chapter 9 institutions and Mkhwebane's successors.

"This (the ruling) means that they will not be able to do their job without fear anymore."

Democracy in Action plans to Raise R900 000 through Thundafund.

"This donation will go very far to strengthen our democracy."

Democracy in Action on August 5 tweeted that it had raised R87 900 so far.

Responding to queries about the crowdfunding effort to help the Public Protector, Oupa Segalwe told Fin24 that the organisation had acted on its "own initiative".

Mkhwebane is seeking advice from her legal team "on the propriety" of accepting the donation from Democracy in Action, he added.

"The Public Protector is touched by the generosity and spirit of Ubuntu displayed by the organisation concerned and thank them for their support," Segalwe said.

Segalwe told Fin24 that the amount for the cost order would first need to undergo taxation for Mkhwebane to know the exact amount due.

He said Mkhwebane was looking at the possibility of paying off the amount in parts as "she does not have that kind of money lying around".

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