Johannesburg – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will make representations to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for the perjury charges against her to be withdrawn.
Mkhwebane’s move was revealed by her lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu SC, in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, where she appeared briefly to face three counts of perjury for making false statements about meeting former president Jacob Zuma.
Mkhwebane met Zuma during her investigation into the R1.125 billion SA Reserve Bank’s (SARB’s) Bankorp lifeboat.
Bankorp is one of the banks that amalgamated to form Absa and was probed by UK asset recovery firm CIEX.
In her report, Mkhwebane found that the government and the SARB failed to recover R3.2bn from Bankorp and Absa.
The report was later reviewed and set aside by the North Gauteng High Court and Mkhwebane ordered to pay some of the costs from her pocket and her bid to challenge it at the Constitutional Court was also unsuccessful.
Mpofu said his client would make representations to the National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi for the charges to be withdrawn.
“Our intention is to make representations for the withdrawal of the charges which we regard as frivolous and contrived,” he said.
Mpofu told the court that if the request to withdraw the charges was not granted his instructions may well include making an application to the high court to squash the charges.
Mpofu said a two months postponement should be sufficient to take care of those matters.
He complained that Mkhwebane’s legal team had requested a docket earlier but it was only made available on Thursday morning.
According to the charge sheet, which details three counts of perjury, in November 2017 Mkhwebane unlawfully and intentionally filed an affidavit in the North Gauteng High Court which declared that she only met Zuma once in April that year.
In April 2018, Mkhwebane also declared a second meeting held in June 2017 with Zuma at the high court which she said was to clarify Zuma’s response to her provisional report.
The third count of perjury relates to her June 2018 Constitutional Court application for direct access in which she declared that she did not discuss the final report and/or new remedial action with Zuma in June 2017 when she knew this was not true.
NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said the prosecution’s evidence against Mkhwebane was formidable
“Based on the facts before the director of public prosecutions, our case is very strong,” Ngwema said.
Accountability Now director Paul Hoffman laid the charges against Mkhwebane.
Mkhwebane will be back in court on March 25.