Personal cost order will set bad precedent for public office, PP tells ConCourt

The “punitive personal costs” sought against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane over her legal defence of the Bankorp-CIEX report would set a bad precedent for her office, Mkhwebane’s lawyers told the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

Mkhwebane is fighting a February 2018 High Court order which ruled that she was personally liable for part of the legal costs incurred by the SA Reserve Bank in the Bankorp matter.

The Public Protector, in 2017, had said that Absa must repay R1.125bn for a “lifeboat” provided to Bankorp by the SA Reserve Bank during the apartheid era. Bankorp was acquired by Absa in 1992. The central bank and Absa both went to court to have the report and its findings set aside.

Mkhwebane appealed the February 2018 ruling, but the high court in Pretoria dismissed her application in late March. She then approached the Constitutional Court.

In his submission before the Constitutional Court on Tuesday, Mkhwebane’s attorney Vuyani Ngalwana asked if it was reasonable to have the office of the Public Protector slapped with “punitive costs” while carrying out its functions.

“Can the country afford to have a head of a Chapter 9 institution operating under a threat of punitive legal costs … is it reasonable, is it appropriate, is it desirable,” he asked.

Ngalwana further argued that the order that the Public Protector personally pay 15% of the central bank’s legal costs could set a negative precedent, and dismissed allegations that Mkhwebane acted unreasonably.

Kate Hofmeyr, on behalf of the Reserve Bank, said the Public Protector “did not act in a manner that is becoming of the high office she occupies”.

Hofmeyr argued the Public Protector had “secret meetings” with the Presidency during the investigation and did not disclose those interactions in her report. “We submit that the costs be paid by the Public Protector personally,” she said.

Mkhwebane’s 2017 report, which separately recommended a review of the Reserve Bank mandate, caused market jitters with a R1.3-billion sell-off in government bonds, according to Hofmeyr’s submission.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng reserved judgment in the matter. — News 24

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories


Subscribers only

Matrics fail at critical subjects

The basic education minister talks of quality passes achieved by the class of 2020, but a closer look at the results tells a different story

Step-aside guidelines are not about Ace, says Mathews Phosa

The guidelines must be ‘timeless, uniting and not capable of being abused,’ says ANC veteran

More top stories

Sisulu dissolves housing agency board, again

The HDA is once again under administration, and its acting chief executive gets to stay on

Pangolins pushed to the brink of extinction

The trafficking of scales is no longer a ‘niche’ criminal activity, but a serious and organised crime that threatens to make all eight species extinct within 20 years

Durban residents want answers after refinery emission

People living near the refinery were subjected to two hours of dirty smoke from the refinery, the South Durban Environmental Alliance said on Saturday.

Parents ‘key to best grade 12 results’

For the past four years, the matric results in Tshwane South has been the leading district in Gauteng. The formula to success has been involving the parents

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…