Home South African Farmgate played no part in Mkhwebane suspension, says Ramaphosa’s lawyer

Farmgate played no part in Mkhwebane suspension, says Ramaphosa’s lawyer

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The investigation into the Phala Phala farm matter had nothing to do with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s suspension of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the president’s lawyers have told the Western Cape High Court.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane at the Western Cape High Court, with advocate Dali Mpofu SC, where they are fighting against her suspension by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN – The investigation into the Phala Phala farm matter had nothing to do with his suspension of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lawyers have told the Western Cape High Court.

Ramaphosa’s advocate, Karrisha Pillay, SC, told the judges hearing Mkhwebane’s application to overturn her suspension, that the president was co-operating fully with the investigation into the matter, where it is alleged that he violated the Executive Ethics Code.

On Monday, Mkhwebane’s advocate, Dali Mpofu SC, had argued before the court that Ramaphosa suspended Mkhwebane out of revenge because of her investigation into the 2020 burglary at his Phala Phala farm.

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Mpofu had also argued that Ramaphosa was aware that Mkhwebane was preparing to challenge impeachment proceedings against her when he suspended her, and that the suspension was unconstitutional because it took place ahead of the process in Parliament to remove her from office.

Pillay argued Ramaphosa had met all the constitutional prerequisites to suspend Mkhwebane and that the Section 194 parliamentary committee looking into her fitness to hold office was a properly constituted removal committee.

Appearing on behalf of the DA, which is also a respondent in the matter, advocate Steven Budlender SC said the DA was the party that had sponsored the impeachment proceedings against Mkhwebane in Parliament.

Budlender said the DA had no complaint lodged against it with Mkhwebane, and there was no suggestion that it tried to protect anyone.

“The DA is of the view that previous findings of courts made it clear that advocate Mkhwebane is unfit to hold the office, and that the president made his decision, and she is now trying to undo that decision on contrived and unsustainable grounds.”

On the Phala Phala farm issue, Budlender said that as serious as the matter was, it should not be allowed to hide the fact that Mkhewebane’s suspension was lawful.

He said Mkhwebane’s suspension was initiated in March this year, long before the Phala Phala matter hit the headlines.

Judgment has been reserved.

Meanwhile, the Section 194 Inquiry, which has been on a break to allow Mkhwebane to argue this matter in court, is set to resume its hearings today with a new witness, the Public Protector’s Free State head, Sphelo Samuel.

Samuel was subjected to a disciplinary hearing by Mkhwebane in 2020. She charged him with misconduct following a letter he wrote to Parliament in 2020 requesting an investigation into Mkhwebane’s conduct.

He was dismissed in December 2020, but the Public Servants’ Association (PSA) took the matter up as an unfair dismissal, and disputed it at the CCMA, which ruled in his favour and ordered his reinstatement.

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