Mkhwebane hearing: Court judgments are just 'opinions', says Dali Mpofu

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Adv Dali Mpofu SC, cross-examining a witness at Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's impeachment hearing last week.
Adv Dali Mpofu SC, cross-examining a witness at Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's impeachment hearing last week.
Jan Gerber
  • Court rulings are "opinions", and those against Mkhwebane are wrong, said Dali Mpofu.
  • The evidence leader, Nazreen Bawa, and the witness, Ivan Pillay, disagreed; they consider court rulings binding.
  • Scathing court judgments against Mkhwebane form the basis of the charges of misconduct and incompetence.

Court rulings are just "opinions", and those against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane are "blatantly wrong", her counsel, advocate Dali Mpofu SC, told the Section 194 Committee.

The committee will decide whether Mkhwebane is competent for the position of Public Protector.

Mpofu represented Mkhwebane in some of the court findings against her.

Also, the previous day, Mpofu objected to a witness' evidence being led because, according to him, it didn't relate to the four court cases upon which the misconduct and incompetence charges against Mkhwebane were built.

READ | Public Protector hearing shown photos that may disprove Mkhwebane claim witness wasn't at Vrede farm

In the end, the testimony of Baldwin Neshunzi did relate to one of the court matters, and also provided another piece in the puzzle of the State Security Agency's involvement at the Office of the Public Protector.

On Friday, the evidence leader, advocate Nazreen Bawa SC, took the former South African Revenue Service deputy commissioner, Ivan Pillay, through the court judgments which had, with scathing rulings, set aside Mkhwebane's reports against him.

"This is a mighty waste of time," complained Mpofu. "A judgment is an opinion of a court."

Bawa responded: "I would think a judgment is binding on everyone."

Mpofu asked: "What is the purpose of what has happened in the last 10 minutes?"

Bawa said it would go a lot quicker if he refrained from interrupting.

"This is not an interruption!" interrupted Mpofu, who wasn't recognised to speak by the chairperson, Qubudile Dyantyi.

READ | Tables turn on Mkhwebane as ex-SARS executive testifies how she went rogue in 'rogue unit' probe

Mpofu said he wanted it placed on record that "what is typed here" in the court rulings "is there".

Bawa asked whether he also admitted to the accuracy of the judgments.

"How can I admit to something that is blatantly wrong? All these judgments are wrong."

Mpofu's attack on the judiciary continued through Pillay's cross-examination. After Mpofu put it to Pillay that judgments were opinions, Pillay asked: "How can opinions be binding?"

"Don't ask me questions," Mpofu hit back.

He said Pillay did not understand the legal principle.

"I understand it, but I don't think your client understands it," Pillay answered.

Mpofu's questioning continued into Friday afternoon.

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