Disagreements between the evidence leader Nazreen Bawa and suspended Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s legal representative Dali Mpofu have marred Friday’s hearing.
The bone of contention was whether the evidence leader was cross-examining the witness on the stand, Mpofu argued while Bawa disagreed.
During the proceedings, Mpofu also requested a five-minute adjournment after the High Court set aside Mkhwebane’s suspension. There were moments when heated arguments ensued.
The inquiry’s evidence leader Advocate Bawa was questioning the Head of Legal at the Public Protector’s Office, Muntu Sithole, about the legal fees spent fighting Mkhwebane’s impeachment inquiry.
Sithole expressed concerns saying he was questioned about documents that he didn’t have. “I was asked to answer questions on documents that are not in my possession of the evidence leaders that are not flighted on the screen and based on my comments or suggestions to the effect that I’m not giving a truthful answer that is a worrying concern for me.”
Mkhwebane’s Counsel Adv Mpofu objected, saying Bawa was cross-examining the witness and she is not allowed to do that. “I’m just disappointed that those who should know better are abusing the rules.”
However, Bawa disagreed that she was cross-examining the witness. “The witness has absolutely wonderful recollection of certain events in 2019 and in the context of which Mr Ngobeni and this is what I will put its not for the witness to answer whether consultants were engaged its for the Public Protector to put that before the committee in the first instance.”
In another development, Mpofu has told the inquiry that the Western Cape High Court has set aside Mkhwebane’s suspension.
Mkhwebane was suspended by President Cyril Ramaphosa in June this year pending the finalisation of her fitness to hold office.
Advocate Dali Mpofu said, “We have just received a judgment from the Western Cape High Court that the suspension of the PP has been set aside so we just wanted to deal with that logistically.”
The Parliamentary Inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office continued after the adjournment.