Mkhwebane is opposing Gordhan's application 'because she feels insulted'

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's counsel said on Tuesday that Pravin Gordhan, as a member of the national executive, had a duty to protect the public protector.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's counsel said on Tuesday that Pravin Gordhan, as a member of the national executive, had a duty to protect the public protector.
Image: Gallo Images / Beeld / Deaan Vivier

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane would not ordinarily have opposed the urgent application but is doing so in the case brought by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan because she feels insulted.

"The reason she has ... done that in this case is that [Gordhan] has essentially insulted the public protector in a case where classical legal questions had to be decided by the court," Mkhwebane's counsel, Thabani Masuku SC, told the high court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The court was hearing an urgent application by Gordhan wherein he is asking it to suspend the implementation of remedial action proposed by Mkhwebane in her report into the "rogue unit" at the SA Revenue Service (Sars), pending the determination of a judicial review of the report.

Masuku said Gordhan's application was unprecedented because of the allegations contained in it against the public protector.

Masuku said in his application that Gordhan had accused the public protector of conducting her investigation and producing her report to promote and support state capture.

"This is an allegation made by a member of the national executive, who has a duty to protect the public protector," Masuku said.

Masuku said Gordhan, in his application to suspend the implementation of the remedial action, claimed that Mkhwebane had endorsed a lie and perpetuated fake news that he had established an intelligence unit within Sars.

"The issues that ought to be dealt with do not require this kind of language," Masuku said, adding that these insulting references against Mkhwebane be struck from the court record.

Masuku said the success of the work of the public protector depended on co-operation from organs of state.

"She must have the support of all the organs of state that she investigates, and makes findings and proposes remedial action against.

"The duty to co-operate comes from the constitution. There is a duty to assist and protect the public protector's dignity," Masuku said.

The hearing continues.


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