/ 27 November 2016

Vytjie Mentor ​calls Mkhwebane a liar and intends to lay charges

Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor was among the people interviewed in the state capture probe.
"I was very unnerved. I was frightened ... I as a woman was not going to go see Zuma who had then a reputation with women," Mentor told the commission. (Gallo)

Former ANC Member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor on Sunday said claims that she had laid a complaint against the former public protector, Thuli Madonsela, do not make sense.

“I was a whistle-blower. I was the first person to be interviewed by Thuli [Madonsela]. I have also been defending her on my Facebook wall. Why would I lay complaint against her?” said Mentor.

Mentor was reacting to a Sunday Times report in which Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane told the newspaper that Mentor had lodged a complaint against Madonsela over a leaked audiotape of a four-hour interview she had with President Jacob Zuma.

According to the report, Mkhwebane laid a criminal charge against her predecessor following Zuma’s complaint. The charge is in connection with the “leaking” of the audiotapes to eNCA of the interview Madonsela had with Zuma during her State of Capture investigation.

The interview between the two was based on allegations made against the president in connection with his relationship with the controversial Gupta family.

According to the Sunday Times, Mkhwebane said the case was opened at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria on November 11.

It is said the basis of Mkhwebane going after Madonsela was in line with legislation which stated that no one was permitted to disclose the contents of any document in the possession of a member of the public protector’s office or the record of any evidence given before the public protector.

Madonsela previously defended her decision to release the interview with the president after he claimed he had never been questioned in the investigations for the state of capture report.

“If she had not done that, then this lie would have been perpetuated that she never interviewed the president,” said Mentor.

The former MP – whose voice grew louder as she spoke of how upset claims in the newspaper made her – questioned the logic of someone who had been defending Madonsela later turning against her.

“Of late, supporters of Zuma have this new thing. They have been saying that I am crazy, I am not okay upstairs. Somehow, I think this is line with Thuli. Only a person who is not thinking clearly would act against processes they initiated,” said Mentor.

In addressing the reports in the newspaper, Mentor said she was concerned that Mkwhebane had not attempted to refute some aspects of the report. “She should have said something after seeing the papers,” said Mentor.

She said the longer Mkhwebane took to address the matter, the longer the claims would stay in people’s minds. “It’s actually defaming my character.”

Earlier on Sunday Mentor took to Facebook to share her thoughts on Mkhwebane, writing in capital letters that she had never lodged a complaint over the release of the audiotape. Mentor accused the public protector of being a liar, stating that she would approach the bar-council over the matter and planned to lay charges.

“I will never, ever for the duration of Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s tenure send anything to her office. I will go to the courts. I will go to the human rights commission instead,” she said.

Mentor said she had posted her concerns over the new public protector on Facebook account numerous times.

“It is worrying that she would be more concerned with protecting the state and not the public as she is mandated to do. I don’t think a spy would be a good public protector,” she said, a reference to Mkhwebane’s former role at State Security and allegations that she was once a spy.

“[Her] position would be to protect the state and not the people. It takes a particular kind of lawyer to make that shift from defending the state to defending the public,” said the former ANC MP.

Some have criticised Mkhwebane since the start of her term in office. Mentor said she understood where the criticism was coming from. “The public is right to say she is a president protector. I had said she would be a state protector but didn’t know she would be [a protector] of one person.”

Mkhwebane was not immediately available for comment. – News24