'Hands off Public Protector' campaign raises funds towards Mkhwebane's costs order

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Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24

Just over R8 800 has been raised so far by supporters of Public Protector Busi Mkhwebane after she was slapped with a nearly R1m cost order by the Constitutional Court on Monday. 

The court agreed with the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that her entire ABSA/Bankorp investigation was flawed, and that Mkhwebane had not been honest during her investigation. 

In February last year, Mkhwebane's Bankorp-CIEX report, where ABSA was ordered to pay R1.125bn, was set aside by the High Court.

In a devastating ruling, the court set aside her report, as well as the remedial action she had recommended, and ordered her to personally pay some of her opponents' legal costs.  

In handing down judgment, Justice Cynthia Pretorius ordered Mkhwebane to pay 15% (an estimated R900 000) of the South African Reserve Bank's (SARB's) costs in her personal capacity.

The rest of the 85% would be paid by her office. 

In an effort to help Mkhwebane, a group calling itself Democracy in Action has launched a "Hands off the Public Protector" campaign and is asking the public to donate money to the cause.

It's spokesperson Thabo Mtsweni said so far people have donated amounts ranging from R8 to R100. 

Mtsweni was speaking outside the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday where Mkhwebane is facing off against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Gordhan filed an urgent application, challenging the implementation of Mkhwebane’s remedial actions against him relating to the so-called SARS "rogue unit".

He is arguing that he will suffer irreparable harm, should he have to comply with the remedial actions. 

'People are responding very well'

"We really feel there is a cord of individuals working to tarnish the image of the Public Protector and that of the office. We feel it is necessary as a country to support this office," said Mtsweni.

He said all the funds raised would be sent to the Office of the Public Protector.

"We are collecting money from individuals, organisations and anyone who wants to donate to ensure that the costs are paid by South Africans."

"People are responding very well and have, from yesterday, put in as little as R8. With the little they have, there are South Africans who want to support the Public Protector," said Mtsweni.

EFF members show support for Mkhwebane

Meanwhile, a number of streets around Pretoria were closed off on Tuesday as EFF members from different regions, clad in their red overalls, arrived in buses to support Mkhwebane.

Singing and dancing, the "fighters" marched along Madiba Street outside the High Court.

Emannuel Bobele, deputy chairperson for Ward 37 in Soshanguve, said they had come to support their leader, Julius Malema, as the party had decided to join Mkhwebane's defence.

"I am a member of the EFF, wherever our president and leadership goes, we will also go. So we are also here to support Busisiwe Mkhwebane," Bobele said.

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