Usindiso commissioner under fire over 'xenophobic' views, asked to recuse himself
A presumption of bias on the part of one of the commissioners at the inquiry into the Usindiso building fire has taken centre stage during a recusal application.
The recusal application was made to the Sisi Khampepe inquiry by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), which said it was concerned commissioner advocate Thulani Makhubela might harbour anti-foreigner sentiments.
On August 31, 77 people died when the hijacked Usindiso shelter for women and children caught fire in the early hours. The hazardous building had become home to more than a 100 people, many of whom were foreign nationals.
Legal representative for SERI advocate Jason Brickhill argued that Makhubela’s sentiments on social media might affect the commission’s ability to reach an unbiased conclusion in the inquiry.
“In the first instance, it is the responsibility of the individual member to recuse himself. [This relates to] the statement on X/Twitter that caused discomfort on bias. The facts have been placed on record, there is nothing to impugn what took place. It’s not a matter of how you and I might feel but a matter of impartiality in the judiciary,” said Brickhill.
Makhubela is yet to formally respond to SERI's stance.
In some of the tweets, the commissioner is said to have sided with the anti-foreign national organisation, Operation Dudula, on allegations that foreign nationals are eroding the law and are a problem.
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