Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane confident she will be cleared in perjury case

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Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Antonio Muchave
  • Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she will cooperate and present herself to the court in January.  
  • This as the Gauteng DPP decided to prosecute after civil society group Accountability Now laid charges of perjury against her in August 2019.
  • She will appear in court in January 2021.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says she is confident the court will clear her of any wrongdoing in her perjury case. 

Mkhwebane was served with a summons to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court to face charges of perjury. 

The case was opened by non-profit organisation Accountability Now in August 2019.

Mkhwebane said that as a law-abiding citizen, she would cooperate and present herself to the court on 21 January. 

She added she was confident that the court would clear her of any wrongdoing.

According to a statement issued on Friday, Mkhwebane said she "learned through media reports that [Advocate] [Paul] Hoffman SC has now written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, requesting him to suspend her". 

On Tuesday, the Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions decided to prosecute Mkhwebane for perjury, NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said.

Decision

"The NPA wishes to confirm that the DPP indeed took a decision to prosecute after he carefully assessed the evidence presented to him by the Hawks. This is in line with the prosecution policy and the law," he said.

The NPA's comment followed the leaking of a summons, indictment, and private correspondence between the Director of Public Prosecutions in Pretoria and the investigating team.

The Hawks said in a statement on Tuesday that it had received a summons, but did not name the Public Protector and stated that the "incumbent" was served with a summons and was set to appear in court in January.

"The summons contains three counts of perjury. The [Hawks] will not engage any further on this matter until such time that the incumbent appears in court," spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said.

READ | Hawks confirm probe into Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

News24 earlier reported the Hawks were investigating Mkhwebane after the anti-corruption pressure group Accountability Now laid criminal charges of perjury and defeating the ends of justice following the findings of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court judgment upheld the February 2018 Gauteng High Court ruling that Mkhwebane pay 15% of the Reserve Bank's legal fees in the Absa/Bankorp review case.

It agreed with a lower court ruling that her entire Absa/Bankorp investigation was flawed and that she was not honest during her investigation.

The Public Protector, in a report published on 19 June 2017, had tasked the Special Investigating Unit with recovering R1.125 billion in, "misappropriated public funds", describing the funds as an "illegal gift" given to Bankorp by the SA Reserve Bank in the 1980s.

Since Bankorp and other banks were later absorbed into Absa, Mkhwebane ruled that the funds be recovered from Absa.

Following the publication of her report, the Central Bank, the Minister of Finance, Absa, and National Treasury have instituted review applications to set aside her directive that the SIU recover funds from Absa. These applications were later consolidated.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria set aside Mkhwebane's findings, citing a, "... reasonable apprehension of bias", in her work.

That court found she had acted in bad faith and put forward a "number of falsehoods" during the litigation, News24 reported.

READ | ConCourt upholds cost order against Mkhwebane, rules she was 'not honest' in Absa investigation

In August 2019, Accountability Now director Advocate Paul Hoffman SC wrote in the Daily Maverick that the laying of charges was based entirely on the binding findings of the Constitutional Court in the costs spat between the Reserve Bank and the Public Protector.

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