Mkhwebane suspends another senior official

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has suspended another of her staff members after he wrote to her requesting — “more like beg[ging]” — her to resign.

This brings to five the number of senior officials currently suspended — suspensions that have put her on a collision course with the Public Servants Association.

Sphelo Samuel, a provincial representative in the Free State office of the public protector, wrote to Mkhwebane this week asking for her resignation — because of her reckless litigation that is “costing this office a lot of money”.

Samuel had in February written to the speaker of Parliament, asking her to investigate Mkhwebane and her alleged financial mismanagement of the public protector’s office. His letter followed an explosive protected disclosure made by suspended senior investigator Tebogo Kekana, accusing Mkhwebane of putting wording into one of her reports that was drafted by the state security agency, and of interfering in an investigation to protect politicians. Claims of inexplicably prioritising certain politically sensitive investigations were also made by former chief operating officer Basani Baloyi in court papers.

In his letter, Samuel said: “You have eroded the values and principles that this office stands for. You have created such a toxic working environment that the staff morale is at an all-time low,” he said. 

On Wednesday Samuel was handed a notice of precautionary suspension, saying that his letter — also sent to members of the Public Servants Association — was “viewed in a very serious light”.

“In addition, you are abusing the facilities of the employer to send such correspondence, which is not related to your responsibilities,” the suspension letter said.

In a statement on Thursday, the public protector’s office said the development came at a time when Samuel faced a disciplinary process on an unrelated matter. “The suspension is not a sanction but an interim measure.

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.

Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
Franny is the legal reporter at the Mail & Guardian

Related stories

Public protector clears Magashule, Joemat-Pettersson

Current ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has been cleared of allegations that he misled the...

Whistleblower: Misrule at trade commission

The International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa’s senior executives are facing allegations of financial mismanagement and victimising employees

ANC won’t rake up its bad apples

The ruling party faces severe criticism over its reluctance to deal with leaders who are facing investigations, and its NEC is accused of selective morality

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim interdicts

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Public protector may not subpoena Zuma’s tax records, says high court

High court says people can refuse to hand information over to the protector if there is “just cause” and also makes a personal costs order against Mkhwebane

Politicians should take responsibility for Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s appointment

The process of appointing the public protector is flawed, and led by politicians who don’t seem to have paid attention to the law. This has to change

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

It’s not a ‘second wave’: Covid resurges because safety measures...

A simple model shows how complacency in South Africa will cause the number of infections to go on an upward trend again

Unisa shortlists two candidates for the vice-chancellor job

The outgoing vice-chancellor’s term has been extended to April to allow for a smooth hand-over

How US foreign policy under Donald Trump has affected Africa

Lesotho has been used as a microcosm in this article to reflect how the foreign policy has affected Africa

Trouble brewing for Kenya’s coffee growers

Kenyan farmers say theft of their crop is endemic – and they suspect collusion

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday