Home South African Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane defends damages litigation

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane defends damages litigation

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Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane is fighting four lawsuits for damages to the tune of more than R1.4m as the costs in several civil matters awarded against her are still to be taxed.

Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cape Town – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is fighting four lawsuits for damages to the tune of more than R1.4 million as the costs in several civil matters awarded against her are still to be taxed.

Mkhwebane is opposing the four matters because her legal team believes that there was reasonable defence against the claims and that the chances of loss will be unlikely.

This emerged from the annual report for 2020/21 Mkhwebane tabled in Parliament this week.

The report shows that one of the matters involves Nchaupe Peter Seabi, who is claiming R350 000 for vicarious liability arising from alleged assault of the plaintiff by our employee.

“The legal team believes that PPSA (Public Protector South Africa) has a reasonable defence against the claim and that the probability of loss will be unlikely,” reads the report.

The second matter involves Itumeleng Max Moletsane and three others whereby Mkhwebane is sued for R1m for damages caused by the alleged failure by her to direct the National Competition Commission to refer his case to the Tribunal.

“The plaintiff claims that the public protector failed to ensure that his right to access the tribunal or court were protected.”

Mkhwebane is also facing damages claim from Star Hero Media Group, which is claiming R 144 000 in a civil action of failure to pay for services rendered.

The report also lists a R12 000 damages claim from MJ Shabangu in damages of defamation resulting from a joint report issued by her and the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Right Commission.

The annual report shows that there were several matters where lawyers for those who were awarded costs were still to draft the cost or no file notice to tax the bills.

One of these matters is that of former minister Gugile Nkwinti, who applied to the court to interdict the release of a report that made damning allegations against him and was awarded costs.

“The applicant’s attorneys are still drafting the costs and there was no reliable estimate on the reporting date, thus no provision has been made in the annual financial statements,” reads the report.

This also applies to President Cyril Ramaphosa who was granted interim relief with costs when he applied for stay of implementation of remedial action.

Ramaphosa’s lawyers, according to the report, are still drafting the costs and there was no reliable estimate on the reporting date.

The lawyers for former employee in Mkhwebane’s office Basani Baloyi, who made an appeal to the Constitutional Court, were still drafting the costs.

Another involved an application she brought against former National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and State Information and Technology Agency among others.

But, the report shows that Mkhwebane’s lawyers have to draft costs in two matters that involve DA and Casac in the appeal over the Vrede Dairy report and a separate matter concerning official opposition.

However, there were still matters whose costs were not decided as they were still on appeal.

Meanwhile, the report said Mkhwebane’s office handled 9 299 complaints with 5 104 being new cases and 6 927 finalised.

There were 3 363 cases brought forward from 2019-2020, 992 cases referred to other bodies, 676 no jurisdiction and 1 997 carried over to 2020-21.

The report said it was clear that the number of complaints finalised in the 2020/21 financial year was lower than previous years.

“However, there is consistency pertaining to municipalities being the institutions complained against the most,” it said.

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