Embattled Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will only find out in June whether she will face trial on charges of perjury.
This is after Mkhwebane made a brief appearance on Thursday in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on three counts of perjury. The case relates to her investigation into the Absa/Bankorp matter in which she is accused of lying under oath about her meetings with former president Jacob Zuma.
The case was postponed to 25 June 2021 after the court heard that Mkhwebane’s legal team had made representations to the Director of Public Prosecutions in Pretoria and the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), advocate Shamila Batohi, why the charges against her should be dropped.
According to a local publicationreport, state prosecutor Connie Erasmus said Batohi would communicate her decision on the matter to Mkhwebane’s lawyers by next week Friday.
Accountability Now laid a criminal complaint of perjury against Mkhwebane with the Hawks.
This followed the Constitutional Court’s (ConCourt’s) ruling in July 2019 that upheld a Pretoria high court judgment which found that the Public Protector was dishonest about meetings she had with Zuma in affidavits submitted to the high court and the Pretoria Regional Court in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Mkhwebane’s remedial action that Absa should pay back R1.2 billion for an apartheid-era bailout to its subsidiary and the central bank’s mandate should be widened were set aside.
The ConCourt had also ordered that she personally pay 15% of the South African Reserve Bank’s legal costs in the case.
During her last court appearance in January, Mkhwebane’s lawyer, advocate Dali Mpofu, indicated to the court that they would challenge the prosecution for perjury on the grounds that the case was “frivolous and contrived”.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said at the time it had a strong case against Mkhwebane and was ready to go to trial.
“The NDPP has to apply her mind when she sees the docket. We don’t know what the accused is going to say to the NDPP but it is within her functions to look at what they say and what the director of public prosecutions in Pretoria has looked at and weighed and decide whether it is appropriate to proceed,” NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said.
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