The high court ruling that earlier suspended remedial orders by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebhane against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is an important affirmation of Gordhan’s rights to procedural fairness, his legal team said in a statement released on Monday afternoon.
The court suspended the remedial orders pending a court review of the Public Protector’s report on the so-called SA Revenue Service “rogue unit”.
“The judgment confirms that a review of the Public Protector’s report is no more than a Constitutional entitlement that all South Africans enjoy, including Minister Gordhan,” his legal team says in the statement.
The legal team adds that Gordhan “doubts the competence, integrity, legal literacy and Constitutional grasp (by the Public Protector) of her powers, duties and functions”.
“The (high court) judgment confirms that the Public Protector failed to explain on what basis she exercised jurisdiction over complaints against (Gordhan) going back as far as 2007, and what ‘special circumstances’ she relied on – a requirement of the Public Protector Act – to entertain complaints about events that occurred more than two years ago,” Gordhan’s legal team states in the statement.
‘Vague, contradictory, nonsensical’
The court found much of the remedial orders to be “vague, contradictory or nonsensical”.
The court further found that Gordhan will suffer “irreparable harm” if he is prosecuted, disciplined and investigated before his application to suspend these actions could be reviewed. At the same time, the court is of the view that no harm will come to the Public Protector and her office if the remedial action is suspended pending review.
In the view of Gordhan’s legal team, the high court ruling confirms the need for “the expeditious determination of the main review application”.
“The Office of the Public Protector ought to await the outcome of court review applications and must welcome the court’s scrutiny of its work,” states Gordhan’s legal team.
Fin24 contacted the Public Protector’s office for comment on the latest judgment, but at the time of publication, none had been received.