​Absa calls public protector a loophole-seeking plagiarist

After getting wrong the law and the facts, public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane outsourced the process of trying to justify a crucial report, Absa told the high court in Pretoria on Tuesday morning.

Then she plagiarised that justification.

“It is difficult to be polite about what the public protector has done here,” Absa’s advocate Gilbert Marcus told the full bench hearing a challenge by Absa and the Reserve Bank. “If this were a first year university student they would be disciplined for plagiarism.”

The two banks are seeking to overturn Mkhwebane’s report into the late 1990s investigation by the UK-based Ciex into an apartheid-era bailout of Bankorp, which was later acquired by Absa. Mkhwebane has abandoned an attempt in that report to rewrite the Constitution to change the Reserve Bank’s mandate, but has stuck to her assertion that somebody owes the government R1.125-billion.

Marcus handed the court a schedule prepared by Absa that lists 23 instances in which Mkhwebane stated what were supposedly her own arguments and justifications in an affidavit in the matter. Instead those had been drawn from the work of University of the Witwatersrand economist Tshepo Mokoka, Absa said, in seven instances verbatim.

Mkhwebane had effectively given the court the impression that her independent conclusions had been corroborated by an outside expert, said Marcus, but this turned out to be false.

“It is at best grossly misleading, at worst … perhaps I should just leave it at putting the best possible spin one can on it,” he said.

The submission was the culmination of a morning in which Marcus suggested Mkhwebane had been disingenuous and accused her of assuming authority even God would shy away from.

Mkhwebane had demonstrated “a profound misunderstanding of the requirements of procedural fairness” Marcus said, and discarded principles said to “go back to the Garden of Eden” in reaching judgment based on one side of an argument.

And in at least two instances Mkhwebane has tried to create loopholes to circumvent legal limitations on her considerable powers, Absa contended, to reach back in time before the creation of her office and to override the doctrine of the prescription of debt.

Even so Absa asked only for a punitive cost order against Mkhwebane’s office rather than the cost order against her personally that the Reserve Bank has said it would argue for.

The Reserve Bank is expected to start its arguments on Tuesday afternoon, with Mkhwebane’s counsel likely responding during the course of Wednesday.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Phillip De Wet
Guest Author

South Africa has been junked

Treasury says the credit ratings downgrade “could not have come at a worse time”, as country enters a 21-day Covid-19 lockdown with little money saved up

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories