The latest witness before Parliament’s Section 194 Committee, Sphelo Samuel, says he thought it was in conflict of interest for the suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to have someone she is investigating attend her 50th birthday party in 2020.
The committee is investigating Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
Samuel says he believed the investigation into the Vrede Dairy Farm was being swept under the carpet when the then Agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane was seen at the party while the Office of the Public Protector was investigating him.
Samuel told Mkhwebane’s legal representative, Advocate Dali Mpofu, he thought it would be considered unethical.
“[You] cannot socialise with a person you are investigating, it’s [a] sign of conflict [of interest]. It reinforced my belief that investigation [was] swept under the carpet.”
Mpofu: “You don’t think it was incompetence or misconduct?”
Samuel: “It could be incompetence to appreciate your role and therefor could be misconduct.”
Samuel is the Provincial Head of the Public Protector’s Office in the Free State.
He was reinstated last month after successfully challenging his dismissal at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
The video below is reporting more on the story: