MP’s ethics hearing put on ice

An MP accused of misrepresenting her gifts and benefits to Parliament will have to wait a while longer for her case to be heard.

Yolanda Botha’s nominated representative, a fellow-MP, was unprepared to present her defence on Thursday.

Botha’s jurors — a sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests — postponed the hearing to give her defence more time to prepare.

Thursday’s brief hearing was held in camera after the ethics committee rebuffed the Mail & Guardian‘s request for public access.

The M&G argues that closed-door ethics hearings conflicts with the public’s right to receive information on the conduct of their public representatives.

But the committee’s rules state that hearings into members’ conduct should be held in camera, with a summary of the hearing and its findings released to the public afterwards.

Botha, who chairs the social development portfolio committee, must explain why she did not disclose benefits that she received from a company she awarded R50-million in tenders to when she was head of the Northern Cape social development department between 2006 and 2009.

The M&G reported in February that property leasing company Trifecta allocated Botha’s family a 10% stake in the company while she was a provincial official, and also renovated Botha’s Kimberley home for at least R500 000 after she moved to Parliament.

At the time of the M&G report, Botha had not declared these interests to Parliament.

The ethics committee announced in March that, in light of the seriousness of the allegations against Botha, it would investigate.

A new date for Botha’s hearing has not been set.

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, supported by M&G Media and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, produced this story. All views are the centre’s.

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