Mkhwebane and her investigators’ lives allegedly under threat
DURBAN – PUBLIC Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says her office received a phone call from a man claiming he was hired to kill her.
The alleged threat came two weeks after a senior investigator in the public protector’s office survived being shot at multiple times. The investigator declined to be named, but his identity is known to the Daily News.
The public protector in South Africa is one of six independent state institutions set up by the country’s Constitution to support and defend democracy.
According to the Constitution, they must be impartial, exercise their powers, and perform their functions without fear, favour or prejudice.
Mkhwebane confirmed to the Daily News that she lived in fear after a man who claimed to be an assassin from the Eastern Cape (EC) contacted her office numerous times, alerting the office that he was “coming” for Mkhwebane.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, said a man claimed a price was put on the public protector’s head.
“An Eastern Cape man contacted the office several times on Friday, August 20 claiming that hitmen were hired to carry out the hit. He did not say why. The claim has been brought to the attention of the SAPS VIP Protection Unit for investigation,” said Segalwe.
According to Mkhwebane, the hitman indicated that they were supposed to travel from the EC to Gauteng on Monday, August 16.
Mkhwebane said that although she and her staff continue being bullied and live in fear, she had no plan to slow down in holding those in power accountable for corruption.
She added that it was clear that those being investigated for serious misconduct were upset.
“We are resolute to soldier on, but I am very worried about the safety of all staff. My chief of staff has been in hospital for two months now. We need more hands on deck.”
On the matter of security for the public protector, Segalwe mentioned that the SAPS VIP protection Unit was responsible for her security.
“Our head of security spoke to SAPS VIP and discussed the matter. These are not the kind of things they would want to discuss in detail publicly because they could compromise the security of the person they protect.”
In another case, a senior investigator was shot and wounded by an unknown assailant at around 6pm on Saturday, August 14 in Silverton, Pretoria.
“The attacker pounced while the investigator sat in his car, not far from the Silverton police station, and opened fire on him. The car was stationary at the time of the attack. He was hit several times in the lower body and was later admitted to hospital, where he underwent an operation. The attacker did not demand money, his valuables, or the car,” said Segalwe.
Segalwe disclosed that a case had been opened with the Silverton police.
Gauteng Police spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele confirmed that Silverton police were investigating a case of attempted murder.
Reacting to the alleged threats levelled at Mkhwebane, Thabo Mtsweni from Democracy in Action told the Daily News his movement was concerned about Mkhwebane’s safety.
“This goes to show how desperate they are to make sure the public protector doesn’t continue doing her sterling work and uncover the truth she is currently busy with, including the ’Zim trip’ and the IPP’s matter,” said Mtsweni.
IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa weighed in and said his party expected the law enforcement agency to investigate these serious allegations and that security measures be put in place.
“The use of threats and violence to deal with differences, especially when directed to chapter nine institutions is unacceptable and inconsistent with ubuntu and a democratic dispensation,” said Hlengwa.
ATM president Vuyo Zungula said: “It would appear that the expression ’with whatever means necessary’ had been activated. “Some dark forces seem quite invested in removing the public protector from office with whatever means necessary. The agenda to deal with advocate Mkhwebane seems to have been on an escalating trajectory after attempts to remove her failed.
“Now it would seem the only way is to remove her permanently from society. ATM is calling on State Security under President Ramaphosa to provide intelligence information to assist the police to arrest the criminals hired to kill Mkhwebane,” said Zungula.
DA leader in KZN Francois Rodgers said: “The matter needs to be urgently investigated and those behind these threats need to be exposed and brought to book. We cannot live in a society where those who expose corruption are either threatened or killed.”