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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to make first court appearance, facing perjury charges

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to make first court appearance, facing perjury charges

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

21st January 2021

By: News24Wire

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The Public Protector, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, is expected to make her first appearance in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

She is facing three counts of perjury.

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In December last year, the Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) announced the decision to criminally prosecute Mkhwebane.

"The NPA wishes to confirm that the DPP indeed took a decision to prosecute after he carefully assessed the evidence presented to him by the Hawks. This is in line with the prosecution policy and the law," National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said.

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The NPA's comments followed the leaking of a summons, an indictment and private correspondence between the DPP and the investigating team in relation to the case against the Public Protector.

The perjury charges, laid against Mkhwebane by non-profit organisation Accountability Now in August 2019, stem from the findings of the Constitutional Court in the matter of the Absa/Bankorp review case.

News24 previously reported that the ConCourt judgment upheld the February 2018 Gauteng High Court ruling that Mkhwebane pay 15% of the Reserve Bank's legal fees in the Absa/Bankorp review case.

It agreed with the lower court ruling that her entire Absa/Bankorp investigation was flawed and that she was not honest during her investigation.

The court also found that Mkhwebane had acted in bad faith and put forward a "number of falsehoods" during the litigation, News24 reported.

The litigation was brought about following the publishing of a report by the Public Protector in 2017, which directed that the Special Investigating Unit recover R1.125-billion in "misappropriated public funds", describing the funds as an "illegal gift" given to Bankorp by the SA Reserve Bank in the 1980s.

Since Bankorp and other banks were later absorbed into Absa, Mkhwebane ruled that the funds be recovered from Absa.

On Monday, Mkhwebane's office announced that she had gone on "sabbatical leave to get some rest."

In a brief statement, her spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe said: "Such a leave of absence is provided for in the terms and conditions applicable to the position of Public Protector."

Segalwe said the Deputy Public Protector, advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, will act as Public Protector while Mkhwebane is on leave - from 15 January until 31 March 2021.

He added that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, gave Mkhwebane the go-ahead to take leave.

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