Home South African Fired public protector employee drops bombshell at inquiry

Fired public protector employee drops bombshell at inquiry

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A dismissed employee of the Office of the Public Protector claimed the State Security Agency – and not incumbent Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane – asked that the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank be changed.

Suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: ANA Archives

CAPE TOWN – A dismissed employee of the Office of the Public Protector claimed the State Security Agency (SSA) – and not incumbent Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane – asked that the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank be changed.

Tebogo Kekana, who was an investigator at the Office of the Public Protector, made the remarks while testifying on Monday at the inquiry into the fitness of Mkhwebane to hold office.

During his testimony into the investigation over whether the government should have implemented the CIEX report, Kekana said when a transcript of an interview with former SSA head Billy Masetlha could not be found, a meeting was arranged with the agency where former SSA head Arthur Fraser and James Ramabulane were in attendance.

However, he said he was told that Mkhwebane held a meeting with former state security minister David Mahlobo prior to the SSA meeting.

“We found it odd for one to have a one-on-one meeting with an implicated party,” he said.

Kekana also told the inquiry that Mkhwebane instructed him not to record the meeting with SSA officials.

Kekana said the meeting with SSA officials did not discuss an amendment to the Constitution or the proposed nationalisation of SARB.

“She did indicate that SSA will bring a draft amendment to the constitutional provision,” he said, adding that an SSA official subsequently brought the draft recommendations.

Testifying on the review of the CIEX investigation report, Kekana said he was initially tasked to compile the Rule 53 record for the review proceedings.

He said he had told the attorneys and counsel that were initially representing the Office of the Public Protector that the recommendation came from the SSA.

He also said the counsel had not shared Mkhwebane’s sentiments that she should include the draft report of the provisional document by former public protector Thuli Madonsela.

In his testimony on the Vrede dairy project investigation, Kekana claimed the initial lead investigator was removed because of suspected membership of the DA.

He also said he was told by the lead investigator that Mkhwebane had instructed that they should not use evidence from the Gupta leaks e-mails and not implicate politicians.

“We were forced to remove adverse findings in the report including on premier (Ace Magashule) and agriculture MEC (Mosebenzi Zwane).”

Kekana said Mkhwebane had indicated that she did not care whether the Vrede dairy report was taken on review or not.

He told the inquiry how he was subjected to an investigation by a law firm and placed on precautionary suspension for allegedly disseminating confidential information without authority.

During cross-examination by advocate Dali Mpofu, he was taken to task for describing himself as a whistle-blower protected under the Protected Disclosure Act as he was no longer an employee at the Office of the Public Protector.

Mpofu noted that Kekana gave a statement in the pending criminal proceedings against Mkhwebane, saying this was double jeopardy.

“You know that double jeopardy is meant to protect you from having to answer twice. It’s a rule of fairness,” he said.

Kekana stood his ground when quizzed that he found it odd that Mahlobo and Mkhwebane had a separate meeting prior to the “investigative meeting” on the CIEX report.

“The version of the public protector is that that was not an investigative meeting but to get clarity from the owners of the contract.

“I put it to you that there is nothing odd about two principals having a meeting of less than half a minute to introduce each other to the issue or even delegations.The evidence is this was her courtesy as a host. The minister was not to sit in the waiting area outside,” Mpofu said.

During Kekana’s cross-examination, Mpofu said the reason he was instructed not to record the meeting was that “those people are not comfortable being recorded”.

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