National 11.8.2016 11:50 pm

Protector candidate Hofmeyr asked, ‘Why did you drop Zuma charges?’

FILE PICTURE: Floyd Shivambu from the Economic Freedom Fighters. Picture: Christine Vermooten

FILE PICTURE: Floyd Shivambu from the Economic Freedom Fighters. Picture: Christine Vermooten

The shortlist for who will replace Thuli Madonsela is down to 14 people and they were all set to be interviewed today.

Advocate Willie Hofmeyr – head of legal affairs at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) – just past 11.30pm, was asked by the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu what had been the rationale behind charging Schabir Shaik for corruption but not charging Jacob Zuma for the same, even though the latter was allegedly part of the same corruption relationship.

He also wanted to know why the NPA had dropped 783 charges of corruption against Zuma and what his views and involvement in that was considering that he occupied such a senior position at the NPA.

Former prosecutor DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach wanted to know what the head of legal affairs was. She wanted to know if he had played a role in appealing the most recent “spy tapes” judgment and why he had gone against the NPA.

Both ANC MP Thomas Bongo and chairperson Makhosi Khoza wanted to know why he had made public comments saying that he already knew he would not be selected as public protector.

He answered the question from ANC MP Nic Koornhof about what his political position was. He said that he had let his ANC membership lapse in the early 2000s despite having been part of the liberation struggle in earlier years. He said conflicts of interest were tough in terms of decisions that needed to be made early on to make tough political decisions “especially early on”.

To Shivambu’s question, he said he was excluded from the decision to drop charges against Zuma.

He said he had done a “hell of a lot of work” on the Shaik case, which was a big case, and had also had reservations about not charging Zuma

“I’m not coming to be public protector to protect anyone, other than the public. The decision that was made in 2009 [to drop charges] … ultimately the situation was that credible, irrefutable evidence came to our attention that the previous head of the Scorpions and the NPA were meddling with politics.

“We were very concerned that a permanent stay of execution [against Zuma] would be brought. We had quite a lot of debate about whether the courts or the NPA should make the decision. Mokotedi Mpshe made the decision, we knew it would be litigated, and that is right.

“We knew it was a difficult decision, and history will tell us if it was right. I tried to preserve the integrity of the NPA.”

He added that he felt he could improve productivity at the public protector’s offices. He said he had managed to do exactly that while he was head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit.

He said he wanted to leave the NPA because he felt unfulfilled in his current role and did not apply to do what he was currently doing. He complained that it only took him three hours to achieve what was now expected of him, and he was used to and preferred working 10-14 hours a day.

He said he had publicly mentioned his doubts about becoming public protector because he knew how many good candidates he was up against. He said he did not want to take it for granted, but felt he at least had a good chance and had been hoping to be shortlisted.

He said he had always had deep concerns about what had been going on at the NPA, but only went public about it after he was accused of lacking integrity, misbehaviour and lying. That was why he filed an affidavit stating the facts about what he knew. “It was difficult to go against my own organisation, but it was the right thing to do.”

Earlier

Nearing 10.30pm, deputy public protector Advocate Kevin Sifiso Malunga was grilled on what he called a “vicious” article against him by journalist Fiona Forde in Business Day. He attempted to discredit the journalist by intimating that she had falsely reported about former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe fathering a child with a 24-year-old in 2009.

Watch proceedings in the video feed:

To another question from DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach he admitted he had been “presumptious” in commenting in 2008 that opposition parties were too keen to go to court against the ANC government.

There had earlier been a lot of clarification required about Malunga being born in Zimbabwe, then studying in Swaziland and South Africa. He said he renounced his Zimbabwean citizenship in 2010, when he became a South African.

In a response to a question by the DA’s Phumzile Van Damme, he admitted that his involvement in the Traditional Courts Bill had been problematic. She had accused him earlier of trying to help pass a bill that was at odds with the constitution from the outset.

ANC MP Thomas Bongo insisted that his question about Malunga allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol. Malunga said the incident was related to a traffic officer soliciting a bribe from him, which he refused to entertain. “The officer asked for cooldrink. I don’t buy cooldrink for traffic cops.”

He pointed out that the attempted cast of drink-driving had been dropped and he did not have a criminal record.

Floyd Shivambu spent most of his question time critiquing a State Security Agency (SSA) letter that was prejudicial against Malunga, because he supposedly did not have a high enough security clearance to be allowed to view top secret information. Malunga had earlier already pointed out that there was information in the SSA letter that was inaccurate.

“Minister Mahlobo is saying there’s a problem, so what do we do?”

African Christian Democratic Party MP Steve Swart seconded this concern, asking why the frontrunner for the position was suddenly found unsuitable on August 4 by the SSA. “Why was this not discovered four years ago when he was appointed as the deputy? He has already acted as the public protector 30 times.”

Malunga said the SSA letter was also new to him and had ben a surprise. He knew of no bona fide impediment to him serving in his job as a fully recognised South African.

Shivambu also wanted to know why Malunga had gone public to disagree with Thuli Madonsela during a time that the public protector was under fire from several quarters, such as being accused of being a CIA agent.

It emerged that Shivambu had suggested earlier that Malunga should not be interviewed in the wake of the letter. Shivambu accused chairperson Makhosi Khoza of having circulated the letter to prejudice the candidate. He told her that Malunga had done nothing wrong in giving her his ID to prove that he was a South African citizen.

Khoza insisted she had no sinister motives in circulating the letter.

Earlier

At about 8.30pm, following advocate Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, advocate Nonkosi Princess Cetywayo, was bumped up to be interviewed earlier, which she thanked the panel for, as it saved her as a woman from having to drive late across town in the earlier hours of Friday morning.

She fielded questions that included whether she had ever practised as an advocate and whether she was still aligned with the ANC. She said that it had not been practical in her younger years to practise after she found employment.

Cetywayo denied that she would ever demonstrate an ANC bias. EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu repeated his question of whether she was a member of the ANC. She said she was not “an active member of the ANC”. She denied even knowing when meetings of the ANC took place.

He then asked her again: “Are you a member of the ANC or not?”

The chairperson said it was not a crime to be an ANC member.

She said that she paid for her ANC membership three or four years ago and appeared to be trying to play down the fact that she had ever joined the ANC. “So yes, I am a member in that way.”

She had earlier told Shivambu, in response to his question of whether low economic growth was the main reason South Africa had problems, that her highlighting of the limited resources in South Africa meant that every cent needed to be used properly.

An ANC member of the panel objected and said that whether Cetywayo was an ANC member was not relevant. The chairperson, Makhosi Khoza, later pointed out that Thuli Madonsela had also been associated with the ANC, but her “moral compass” took centre stage after she took office as the public protector.

Shivambu accused the chair of trying to assist the candidate. “You were doing well; now you are spoiling it. You’re providing a leading question to the question.”

Khoza told him she would rephrase his question, but he insisted that she withdraw it.

The candidate answered ANC MP Thomas Bongo by saying that she had indeed considered whether she could be impartial before applying for the job. “The moment that you take a particular responsibility, you reconcile yourself to that duty. This office is put there by the constitution to serve the public, not the ANC. I’ve been in the positions of serving … I’ve served different political parties. I’ve never had any political party complaining about partiality. I’ve worked with politicians all my life; I think they could attest to my respect for a position I am given at a particular point in time.”

She later said that she had been “breastfed” by the constitution. She said she’d never been an ANC party employee in her life.

She answered the DA’s Phumzile Van Damme’s question about Madonsela’s Secure In Comfort report by saying that she remembered being in the Seychelles when the report arrived.

“The custom was that a report that comes to parliament goes to the Speaker via the normal channels. When I called I thought we had received the report in that fashion, but the office finally got the report from the joint committee on ethics. We asked them for a copy. No report was sent to parliament officially for the National Assembly to act on at all.

“Ms Lindiwe Mazibuko asked for an ad hoc committee to be set up to deal with the report. I said I did not know what our response should be as there’s no report to us from the public protector telling us what to do about it.

“My advice was that we advise Ms Mazibuko that we had not officially received the report. We did hear about it from the media.”

She added that when she returned from the Seychelles she tried to call Madonsela but only reached her voicemail. The public protector’s CEO told her they had deliberately not sent a report to parliament, which meant that they did not expect parliament to do anything at that time.

Van Damme challenged this. “Did you not think, should we not google this document, find it and give advice to the Speaker on this? It’s not enough to say the CEO told you he didn’t send it, and then you do nothing.”

Cetywayo said she had already said they had a copy. “The point I’m making is that there are mechanisms in place for how oversight should happen. If you’re looking at the legal issues, when you’re dealing with a matter, you go from procedural to substantive matters before dealing with an issue. If procedural issues are not in order, you are always cautious because you don’t want to be tackled on a technicality.

“As a lawyer, you say it’s best to wait until the procedural side is complied with.”

Earlier

Shortly after 7pm EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu drove a hard party line in his question to candidate Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, an executive director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, asking if, as the public protector, she would support a change to the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation “to give land to our people” in order to reclaim land from “the colonial murderers who beheaded us”.

In her response, the advocate started first by answering questions about whether South Africa should remain part of the International Criminal Court, even though the court was prosecuting more African leaders.

Her answer was that it should, and that African countries should exercise their power as the biggest global bloc at the court. She said that the high number of African cases at the court was due to the fact that most African countries had referred the cases themselves. She said that to complain about this was “curious”.

She said she took great offence at a question that the Southern Africa Litigation Centre might be “foreign controlled”.

In answer to Shivambu’s question that her centre had prioritised justice over peace in bringing an application to arrest Omar al-Bashir during his last visit to South Africa, she said that it did not go without saying that Bashir was essential to peace in Sudan and Africa. She defended their actions in litigating for his arrest. She also corrected Shivambu on his error in talking about South Sudan when Bashir was in fact the president of Sudan.

She said her organisation had an obligation to seek justice for victims in Sudan, who could get nothing of the sort in their country. “Should we wait 60 years for justice? I don’t think so. We need justice now.”

In answer to his question about land expropriation without expropriation, she said she did not support it, but added it was not a simple issue. She then moved on swiftly from the topic.

For the further unfolding of the process, which is running nearly two hours late, watch the livestream video below.

 

Earlier

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s former deputy and adversary Mamiki Goodman (nee Shai) was taken to task by MPs on Thursday over her very public clashes with her former bosses.

Goodman, who served a seven year stint as deputy public protector and who famously hurled accusations at Madonsela in parliament in 2012 of bullying and of being politically biased, was forced to admit that she was currently suspended from the National Gambling Board, despite not having declared this fact in a questionnaire sent to all candidates shortlisted for the position of public protector.

“You are now suspended because you have accused somebody… you have a history of confrontation with your superiors,” Democratic Alliance MP Glynnis Breytenbach charged, asking Shai whether she was not responsible for causing “mayhem” in the public protector’s office, given that she had also accused Lawrence Mushwana, Madonsela’s predecessor, of sexual harassment — all allegations that have never been proven during various inquiries.

Goodman denied causing mayhem, blaming the media of casting her in a bad light.

“There is a good thing you will find in me if you let yourself understand me for who I am, not how the media has described me…,” she said. “I’m afraid that conflict is necessary… In everywhere I’m accused, is where I’m trying to rectify the wrong. It is unfortunate that people view the people that are raising the wrongs as the people who are wrong.”

– African News Agency (ANA)

Earlier

Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai lost his cool a number of times in parliament after his honesty and integrity were brought into question during an interview for the post of public protector.

Democratic Alliance MP Werner Horn said Desai had changed his version of events during the 2004 Mumbai trial where he was accused of rape.

Watch the video of the proceedings live below.

This stirred the blood of Desai, who sought to immediately object to mentioning a case in which he was never found guilty or acquitted. It was “terrible” that he had to keep repeating the facts around the case, he said.

DA MP Phumzile van Damme would not let the matter lie and said Desai’s reaction begged the question as to whether he could “keep a cool head”; an attribute essential to the office of the public protector.

There had been a number of “public spats” and a fracas involving members of the judiciary and others. One particular case involved the sentencing of Alan Boesak by Judge Foxcroft.

Desai blamed the spat on middle class white arrogance.

“You are now angry and proving my point,” Van Damme responded.

Desai also refuted claims that his objectivity would be compromised. This was because of a number of cases he had presided over and controversial judgments involving the ruling party which have been criticised. He denied this was the case and said he would uphold the independence of the office of the public protector.

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu also took Desai to task. He said Madonsela had faced and shook off severe criticism in her tenure and it wasn’t clear that the judge would be able to do the same.

“I don’t know if you have the temperament. I expected so much better of a judge. You come here and you have to interject? Is that how you are going to interact with us if you are ever the public protector?”

Desai later apologised.

“I agree that I shouldn’t have reacted so strongly. I apologise [to honourable Van Damme]. Everybody is the product of his own life experiences,” he said.

Earlier

Advocate Michael Mthembu struggled to impress members of parliament during his interview session this morning.

Video courtesy of news channel eNCA.

Mthembu took a grilling firstly from DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach, who challenged why he failed to disclose that there were two civil judgments against him – one from Nedbank and another from the SA Revenue Service (Sars).

Failure to disclose these brought into question his integrity, honestly and reliability, which were key attributes of a public protector.

Mthembu replied that he was not aware of the Sars judgment but the one relating to a loan through Nedbank was being dealt with.

Mthembu said: “Life is a journey… we must learn from our mistakes,” adding that the Nedbank judgment from last year was still in the process of being negotiated.

IFP MP Themba Msimang and ACDP MP Steve Swart also questioned how he would be able to manage financial functions of the office.

Refering back to Mthembu’s analogy to life is a journey, Msimang asked if he was “fully grown [up] to be able to manage”.

Next to face the committee was Judge Sharise Erica Weiner.

There has already been a delay and the process is now likely to continue into the early hours of Friday morning.

After Advocate MM Mthembu’s interview, which was completed earlier after a delay, this was the provisional schedule.

– Judge Sharise Erica Weiner 8.50-9.50am

– Advocate Chris Madibeng Mokoditwa 9.55-10.55am

– Judge Serajudien Desai 11am-noon

– Adjunct Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller 12.05-1.05pm

– Advocate Mamiki Thabitha Goodman 1.50-2.50pm

– Busisiwe Mkhwebane 2.55-3.55pm

– Jill Claudelle Oliphant 4-5pm

– Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh 5.05-6.05pm

– Advocate Kevin Sifiso Malunga 6.10-7.10pm

– Willam Andrew Hofmeyr 7.45-8.45pm

– Muvhango Antoinette Lukhaimane 8.50-9.50pm

– Professor Bongani Majola 9.55-10.55pm

– Advocate Nonkosi Princess Cetywayo 11pm-midnight

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