Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has made a brief appearance in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, where her perjury case was postponed to 25 March 2021.

Mkhwebane’s first appearance in the dock on Thursday, 21 January 2021, saw the state request a postponement, which her legal counsel, Advocate Dali Mpofu agreed to.

Mpofu has indicated that they will make representations to have the charges withdrawn against the public protector.

NPA: ‘We have a strong case against Mkhwebane’

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has taken note of the fact that Mkhwebane intends approaching the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) to have the matter thrown out. However the NPA is unfazed and has maintained it’s got a case against the public protector.

“In terms of what we have investigated and the evidence that is available we are ready to go to trial…there is no doubt that the Director of Public Prosecutions has looked into the charge sheet. It’s a formidable charge sheet”

NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema

Ngwema said the case also depended on what the public protector could say when making representations.

“But with regards to what is on paper and what has been investigated by the Hawks, there is a strong case against the public protector,” he said.

Paul Hoffman, the director of nongovernmental organisation Accountability Now, laid a complaint against her in 2019.  This was in relation to Mkhwebane’s investigation into an apartheid-era loan by the South African Reserve Bank to Bankorp, which is now part of Absa. In 2019, the Constitutional Court upheld a ruling by the High Court, which found that her conduct during the investigation was dishonest.

In December 2020, the Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions announced they would be criminally prosecuting Mkhwebane, after assessing information brought by the Hawks.

Since coming into office in late 2016, Mkwebane has had a tumultuous tenure, mainly marred by adverse court findings against her as well as a possible parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office. This also includes legal stand-offs with President Cyril Ramaphosa, Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, and others.

Mkhwebane’s court appearance comes just days after her office announced she would be taking some time off, leaving her second-in-command, Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka to hold the fort.

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Presh JM Reporter

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