Parliament, Friday, 11 November 2022 – The Chairperson of the Committee for Section 194 Enquiry into Public Protector (PP) Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, Mr Qubudile Dyantyi, today dismissed a request by the PP that only a redacted version of the schedule of legal fees paid by the Office of the PP (PPSA) be shown in today’s hearing.
This followed a submission by Evidence Leader Adv Nazreen Bawa, SC, yesterday that she wished to rectify certain errors on the schedule of legal fees that Mr Cornelius (Neels) van der Merwe, Senior Manager for Legal Services in the Office of the PP took the committee through. She indicated at the start of the proceedings that following discussions with Adv Dali Mpofu, SC, she would display a redacted version of the schedule without the names of legal practitioners if the committee agreed to this compromised proposal.
Mr Dyantyi noted the proposal by the PP’s legal team and the Evidence Leaders but he ruled that the complete schedule including the names of legal representatives must be shown. He said the committee does not have difficulty with the names of the advocates being revealed. Adv Mpofu objected unsuccessfully and thereafter Adv Bawa, was instructed to proceed.
Adv Bawa canvassed the corrected fees with Mr van der Merwe highlighting that the amount reflected as having been paid to Adv Muzi Sikhakhane, SC, was less than the previous figure reflected last week. Some of the errors related to amounts being displayed in the incorrect colums. The previous schedule reflected Adv Vuyani Ngalwana, SC, as having been paid R4.7 million. The committee heard that the correct figure was R3.4 million with the balance having been paid to Adv Mpofu whose fees on the corrected schedule was closer to R13.5 million instead of the R12.2 million which was shown last week.
The committee heard that these fees included VAT and reflected the amount before income tax was paid by the practitioners. Adv Mpofu then continued with the cross-examination of Mr van der Merwe. Speaking with reference to Mr Paul Ngobeni, Adv Mpofu told the witness that Adv Mkhwebane was told that he is a brilliant advocate who then rendered services for which the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) paid R210 000 to Seanego Attorneys. Adv Mpofu contended that “the only gripe” in relation to Mr Ngobeni was that he was paid through the legal department of the PPSA and not the communications department.
Mr van der Merwe said his impression is that this was not the only issue. According to him the manner in which Mr Ngobeni was appointed and whether that complied with procurement requirements was also potentially problematic. Adv Mpofu said it is clear that Mr Ngobeni's services straddled communications and legal services.
Regarding the PP’s CIEX/South African Reserve Bank (SARB) report, Adv Mpofu put it to the witness that he was the source of the PP’s unlawful remedial action which ordered Parliament to amend the Constitution to change the mandate of the SARB. Mr van der Merwe said there was nothing in his research report that would have informed Adv Mkhwebane's decision to order that the constitutional mandate of the SARB should be amended.
Mr van der Merwe confirmed that he recommended a possible review of the Constitution in relation to the mandate of the central bank, but denied that he recommended that the mandate of the bank must be amended. He said he did research on behalf of the PP and was then accused by Adv Mpofu of employing a “Nuremberg defence” and adopting the stance of apartheid apologists by claiming they just followed orders. This was rejected by the witness.
Mr Dyantyi said the hearings will continue in two weeks’ time, on 28 November 2022 when the PP is scheduled to call her first witness. The committee was established by the NA on 16 March 2021 to conduct a constitutional inquiry into the PP’s fitness to hold office. Committee documents can be found at Committee for Section 194 Enquiry - Parliament of South Africa
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE COMMITTEE FOR SECTION 194 ENQUIRY, MR QUBUDILE DYANTYI.
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