The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court has postponed a perjury case hearing against suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who is currently facing a parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office.
THE PRETORIA Magistrate’s Court has postponed a perjury case hearing against suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who is currently facing a parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office.
The inquiry has been adjourned to Thursday this week to allow Mkhwebane to attend to the case, which is in relation to her 2017 SA Reserve Bank (SARB) report.
This is the report which recommended that the mandate of the SARB be changed.
On Friday last week the magistrate postponed the perjury matter until October 26 to allow for a decision in a high court review application Mkhwebane lodged to have the charges withdrawn.
Mkhwebane originally faced three charges of perjury for allegedly lying under oath about the number of times she had met with former president Jacob Zuma during her investigation into the SARB and Absa.
Two other charges relate to her meeting with Zuma again in June 2017. She is alleged to have lied about the contents of their discussions on that day.
In June 2021, following her representations to the director of public prosecutions in the North Gauteng division, advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi, one of the charges was withdrawn. There was confusion as to whether she met with the president or the presidency.
In her court papers, Mkhwebane said she “mistakenly referred” to one of the meetings she had with Zuma’s office. She blamed the hurried manner in which her high court answering affidavit was prepared, saying she and her legal team had to study a volume of court papers in just a few days.
Meanwhile, Mkhwebane has approached the Pretoria High Court for the two remaining counts to be withdrawn.
The perjury case stems from a criminal complaint lodged in August 2019 by pressure group Accountability Now director, senior counsel Paul Hoffman, who accused Mkhwebane of lying under oath and defeating the ends of justice in connection with her investigation into the SARB’s loan to Bankorp. However, the NPA only decided to prosecute her for perjury in December 2020.
It was not the first time that Hoffman had targeted Mkhwebane. In July 2019 he lodged a complaint with the Legal Practice Council to have her struck from the roll of advocates.
Later, in March 2020, the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria dismissed his application for a declaratory order that the public protector was unfit to hold office.