The reinstated Head of the Public Protector’s Office in the Free State, Sphelo Samuel, has told the Section 194 Committee that suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane refused to issue a subpoena to politicians who were not cooperating in the Vrede Dairy project investigation.
Former premier Ace Magashule and former Agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane are the two politicians who were also at the center of irregularities in the project.
Samuel claims that Mkhwebane had instructed that no adverse findings should be made against politicians.
He says he subsequently made adverse findings in his draft report against the two politicians.
Samuel was testifying before Parliament’s Section 194 Committee which is investigating Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
This was the interaction between Samuel and evidence leader Nazreem Bawa:
Bawa: “And when did you make the request to the Public Protector to issue the subpoenas?”
Samuel: “It was during on the day of the inspection, as we were taken around the dairy farm.”
Bawa: “And what was her response?”
Samuel: “Her response was that she does not want any findings made against politicians. She declined my request to prepare subpoenas for her signatures.”
Bawa: “What was your view on the matter?”
Samuel: “I accepted her view at the time and I knew that I could not take the matter any further, so I had to rely on what was available to me.”
Bawa: “And what did you then do?”
Samuel: “I did not receive my request so I then prepared a draft and made adverse findings against both politicians to the effect that they owned up to the project and that it is impossible that the HOD could have been acting alone.”
Suspension is unconstitutional
Meanwhile, Mkhwebane’s legal representative Advocate Dali Mpofu has since said her suspension is unconstitutional because it happened before the process to remove her started in Parliament.
Mpofu has sought to convince the court that because the current Section 194 committee is not a removal committee as contemplated in the constitution and that its existence cannot be used to trigger her suspension by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Mpofu says the constitution provides for possible suspension only after the commencement of the removal committee, adding that the suspension is unconstitutional because there is no clarity on when the committee’s proceedings started as different dates have been given as commencement dates.
More details in the report below:
-Additonal reporting by SABC News