Scathing judgment may put Mkhwebane’s job in jeopardy

Pretoria – Friday’s scathing judgment in the Bankorp-CIEX court case could lay the foundation for removing Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane from her position, on the basis that she abused her office.

Mkhwebane already received a stinging judgment against her in August last year, after Judge John Murphy labelled her “impervious” and “disingenuous”.

Friday’s judgment was handed down by Judge Cynthia Pretorius in the the North Gauteng High Court , after a full bench of judges consisting of Pretorius, Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi and Judge Dawie Fourie, heard the Bankorp-CIEX review application in early December.

The judgment described Mkhwebane as biased and without proper comprehension of her constitutional duty. It said she did not conduct herself in a manner expected from a person occupying the office of the Public Protector.

The court set aside Mkhwebane’s report and the finding that ABSA was liable to pay R1.25bn to the government. It ordered her to personally pay some of her opponents’ legal costs.

Mkhwebane “did not have regard thereto that her office requires her to be objective, honest and to deal with matters according to the law and that a higher standard is expected from her”, the judgment stated. “She failed to explain her actions adequately.”

This could possibly lay the foundation of a new application, seeking an order that Mkhwebane has abused her office.

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) had sought such an order in the case, but the judges rejected it on a technicality. They said the court would not be averse to finding she had abused her office, if the correct procedure were followed.

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