Mkhwebane off to court to challenge ‘unlawful and hurried’ suspension
The legal showdown between suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to continue.
This time Mkhwebane wants the Cape Town high court to set aside her suspension by Ramaphosa.
She claims her “unlawful” suspension was “rushed” as a result of her decision to investigate allegations of money laundering, tax evasion, kidnapping and torture at the president’s Phala Phala farm.
“It is clear that the president sought gratuitously to violate my dignity and to humiliate me in public,” said Mkhwebane.
Ramaphosa wanted to:
- “Remove me from any sources of effective support which resided or depended on my continued occupation of my office;
- “Remove me from any involvement in the many ongoing investigations against him in respect of serious and impeachable offences; and
- “Retaliate for the announcements of the new investigations against him regarding Glencore, as well as the serious allegations of breaches of the executive members ethics at his Phala Phala farm.”
Mkhwebane added: “Any one or more or all of such ulterior and/or improper motives is sufficient to taint the decision and/or conduct with illegality.”
Mkhwebane’s legal team has proposed the matter be heard on July 6 and 7.
Ramaphosa suspended Mkhwebane with immediate effect on June 9 pending the outcome of parliament's impeachment process against her. Hearings are due to start on July 11.
On June 10, Ramaphosa said there was nothing “underhand or hidden” in the timing of his decision, and he stood firm this week after Mkhwebane’s written demand that he reverse it.
On Friday, Mkhwebane filed a supplementary founding affidavit at the high court saying she learnt of her suspension through the media.
“To my utter shock, surprise and dismay, I heard over the radio sometime between 5pm and 6pm that I had been suspended with immediate effect. I also started to receive calls from many sympathisers and supporters.
“I later received a copy of the suspension letter, which had apparently been sent to my professional assistant at 3.46pm and without even extending the humane courtesy of a telephone call to me by the president or his legal representatives, in the spirit of ubuntu.”
On Phala Phala, Mkhwebane said on June 3 she received a complaint from the African Transformation Movement (ATM) asking her to investigate.
Four days later she sent 31 questions to Ramaphosa, and on June 8 she announced to the media her decision to go ahead with the investigation.
Mkhwebane said she was met with an “immediate retaliatory response of an immediate, inexplicable and clearly irrational suspension”, adding: “I am deeply hurt and humiliated by this unlawful and obviously rushed suspension. My human dignity has been and continues to be impaired with every day that passes while I am unlawfully suspended.”
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