South Africa: Justice and Correctional Services Committee Reserves decision on Inquiry into Public Protector’s fitness to hold office

Only Parliament has the powers to make an order on the fitness of the Public Protector to hold office 

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, June 15, 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has resolved to reserve its decision on whether to hold an inquiry into the fitness of the Public Protector to hold office until Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane has had an opportunity to respond to the complaints against her.

The committee was today briefed by Member of Parliament Mr John Steenhuisen on the request to expedite the procedure to remove the Public Protector from office. During the presentation, Mr Steenhuisen highlighted various court judgements that state, he claims, that Adv Mkhwebane over-reached her powers. It is these court judgements that led him to lodge the request with the Speaker of the National Assembly, who in turn referred it to the committee.

Committee Chairperson Dr Mathole Motshekga said in closing that the power of Parliament is exclusive and not dependent on any court finding. Only Parliament has the powers to make an order on the fitness of the Public Protector to hold office. “I believe in the rule of natural justice and therefore the committee must hear the other side,” he explained.

“Mr Steenhuisen can set his complaint out in writing. The committee will inform the Public Protector of it and request her response in writing before we make a determination on whether to call her to elaborate on it. The committee will after this also decide on the necessity for an inquiry,” said Dr Motshekga.

Earlier in the day, the committee received a briefing on the Public Protector Rules and Policy on the appointment of a Special Advisor in the office of the Public Protector. The committee also resolved to take a decision on this matter at a later stage, as several processes, including decisions by other institutions, are still outstanding.

The committee further accepted Adv Mkhwebane’s apology for the short notice she gave for her non-attendance at a committee meeting due to family emergency. The committee heard that she did not send a delegation led by her deputy as she thought the issues, particularly on the rules and policies of the office, required her special attention.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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