Public Protector officials axed 'because of FSCA investigation' and 'to settle scores'

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Tebogo Letsie, Gallo Images)
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Tebogo Letsie, Gallo Images)

The Public Protector's suspension of four high-ranking officials and its axing of CEO Basani Baloyi was seemingly over a Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA) report that is being taken on judicial review.

Even though Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane told the SABC that three of the officials were suspended for sabotaging investigations, former senior investigator for quality assurance, Isaac Matlawe told News24 that they were targeted for other reasons.

Matlawe said Sekele and Mogaladi were being punished for being close to former Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana.

"Mkhwebane is hell bent on settling scores from the Mushwana era. She has an axe to grind against senior managers from the Mushwana era," he said.

The dismissals also concerned the FSCA report - now on review in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria - sources who have direct knowledge of the events told News24.

One source did not know of a disciplinary hearing before the dismissal.

The FSCA investigation involves a complaint by EFF leader Julius Malema against the FSCA's former director, Dube Tshidi.

Mkhwebane found that Tshidi misled Parliament and used his position to protect a compromised curator. She instructed the FSCA to take corrective action against him.

Initially, Matlawe was investigating the FSCA matter but it was later taken away when he was suspected of leaking information about the chief of staff who did not have a matric certificate/qualification, he said.

READ | Public Protector's office accused of threatening to fire more staff

Matlawe added that Sekele was also previously under investigation for an administrative issue, but nothing came of it.

He believed the final report was bungled and Madiba and Mogaladi were "probably being persecuted over it", adding that Mogaladi especially "had always been targeted".

"The recordings of all the meetings/interviews conducted during the investigation of that matter and what transpired in those meetings were with me. So I was surprised after they took the file from me and then I heard that they were compiling the report without even approaching me to get that information when I was still employed there," he said.

"How could they compile a report when they don't have all the information?"

He added that "there might be more than meets the eye with that report".

Matlawe said it was not the first time that employees were targeted as a result of their relationship with Mushwana.

He said other senior officials were sidelined and "investigated under dubious circumstances and nothing come out of that investigation".

Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe would not comment on internal matters.

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