Monday, 20 May, 2019

Public Protector's ABSA Report Struck Down By Court

Public Protector's ABSA Report Struck Down By Court Public Protector's ABSA Report Struck Down By Court
Russell Knight | 17 February, 2018, 06:01

A full bench of the High Court in Pretoria has delivered a scathing judgment against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, saying she did not fully understand her constitutional duty to be impartial and perform her functions without fear, favour or prejudice.

Absa, the Reserve Bank and Treasury challenged Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report into the apartheid era bail-out, claiming it was procedurally unfair and rested on material errors of fact and law.

The Public Protector's proclamation came after an investigation into a report on apartheid-era looting by UK-based asset recovery agency, Ciex, was submitted to the her office.

This include the findings that the matter of the so-called bailout had to be referred to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to "recover the misappropriated public funds unlawfully given to Absa".

Judge Cynthia Pretorius, who wrote the judgment, found that the Public Protector had jumped the gun and simply made her own findings. "We can finally put the matter behind us".

Failure by Adv. Mkhwebane to step down, the EFF will initiate a parliamentary process in terms of section 194 of the Constitution.

This led to her prescribing the offending remedial actions in her report.

Public Protector's ABSA Report Struck Down By Court

The report dealt with the financial assistance provided by the Sarb to Bankorp, which was later bought by Absa.

"The court is being used to prepare the ground for the removal of the person who occupies the office of the Public Protector", Kennedy said.

Judge Pretorius said the proposed investigation by the SIU concerns transactions which occurred decades ago. Mkhwebane, for instance, said the "illegal gift" of R1.25-billion had to be recovered from Absa.

Th Public Protector released the report in June previous year and caused an uproar among various institutions as it called for an amendment of the Constitution. "The DA has always maintained that she is not suitable to head up the office of the Public Protector‚ as a crucial institution in the fight against injustice and corruption".

"She failed to disclose in her report that she had a meeting with the Presidency on 25 April 2017 and again on 7 June 2017".

"We have to conclude that this is a case where a simple punitive costs order against her in her official capacity will not be appropriate". The SARB hit hard on the recommendation and ordered a review of the report and asked the court to declare that Mkhwebane had abused her power.

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