Witness recalled being told to remove all references to politicians from Estina Dairy Investigation

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A witness at the impeachment hearing of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has described how he was told to remove references to politicians from the Estina Dairy Investigation.

He also gave details of how Mkhwebane had held a private meeting with then State Security Minister David Mahlobo and officials of his department ahead of an official investigative meeting.

Kholofelo Kekana, a former senior investigator in the Public Protector’s office, has been subpoenaed to appear before the committee by evidence leaders after he was initially reluctant to do so.

The hearings into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office entered their second week on Monday. Mkhwebane’s impeachment follows several adverse findings against her by the courts, including the Constitutional Court.

The ConCourt found that she failed to engage with the parties directly affected by her new remedial action before she published her final report. It also found that her explanation for why she discussed the vulnerability of the Reserve Bank with the State Security Agency was unintelligible.

Kekana says as the investigator on this matter he was invited to a meeting with Mkhwebane and then Minister David Mahlobo and senior SSA officials, including its head Arthur Fraser.

It was not just the private meeting that was odd, he told the members.

On the Vrede dairy Farm matter, Kekana told the hearing that he was appointed part of a task team to finalise this report. Evidence Leader Advocate Nazreen Bawa asked him how came to be part of this report.

Kekana described how he was eventually hounded out of the office of the Public Protector. He was initially suspended and was later fired following a disciplinary hearing. But this was after he had been removed from his position in the Public Protector Private Office.

When came the turn of Advocate Dali Mpofu on behalf of Mkhwebane, he went straight out to rattle the witness. He questioned his credentials as a whistleblower and said he regarded him more as a disgruntled employee.

Mpofu will continue his cross-examination of Kekana on Tuesday.