Parliamentary Committee’s last witness completes giving evidence at Mkhwebane inquiry

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The Parliamentary Committee looking into the fitness of suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to hold office has completed hearing evidence from the committee’s last witness Neels van der Merwe.

Advocate Dali Mpofu for Mkhwebane sought to dispute what he said is a wrong impression created about payments to different lawyers. He later suggested that Van der Merwe was the one who proposed to Mkhwebane that the constitution be amended to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank.

On the matter of the fees, Mpofu maintained that their publication was wrong. He said they were an abuse of lawyers who are making a honest living.

He went on to tell the committee that he is not trying to hide the fact that he has made money from the Public Protector’s office.

“And for the record because there is some idea that, especially those of us who are here maybe we want to hide money that we have earned as a result of the work that we have done, no. In my case I can tell you that the money that has been put there is not enough. There’s other money that I have and from our other attorneys from the Public Protector’s office. The money that I have is peanuts. So, let’s get that clear that there’s no self-preservation here,” said Mpofu.

Mpofu then went on to suggest that Van der Merwe was in fact the author of the proposal in the Public Protector’s CIEX Report about amending the constitution to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank.

This is despite Van der Merwe’s protestations that all he did was conduct research as requested by the Public Protector and that all he had was a rough draft.

”It has never been even raised in the preceding legislation. I am reiterating the fact that it is now post X factor. Because it was raised in this committee.  An opportunistic opportunity to pin it on me that I was the originator of that idea. It was the Public Protector’s idea. How she got inputs from whoever. This committee if my one sentence in the end resulted in that recommendation, I cannot dispute the subjective reasoning of the Public Protector.”

Things got heated between Mpofu and Van der Merwe when the latter felt he was being treated unfairly.

“What was intended within reason we were going to fund the Public Protector. But we said that that must be canvassed properly before Adhoc statements are made just willy nilly. I’m saying to you let me finish what I’m saying. You can’t ask me a question and then interrupt me and then say let me help you,” Mpofu explained.

Mpofu has also revealed more names of people he intends to call as witnesses. They include former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and DA MP Natasha Mazzone. This is in addition to Minister Pravin Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Section 194 Inquiry into Mkhwebane to hear more about her office’s expenditure on legal fees: