Phumelela announced on Wednesday that it was pleased a court order had been granted in favour of the company on Tuesday preventing Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s remedial action on the horse racing industry from being implemented until the review process had been finalised.
The public protector did not oppose the urgent interdict application in the High Court in Pretoria, which is normal for the office of the public protector.
“Although we are obviously pleased with yesterday’s ruling, Phumelela wishes to reiterate that the review process is still far from finalised,” said Phumelela CEO John Stuart.
“The matter is now before the courts and we feel it would be inappropriate to pre-empt the proceedings, as the final outcome could have a material effect on the company.
“We have complete faith in the judiciary and trust that the courts will deliver the correct verdicts.”
Phumelela has accused the public protector of failing to follow a fair process and violating the separation of powers doctrine, which are similar to the legal errors she was slammed for by the courts in her investigation of the Bankorp apartheid-era bailout involving the SA Reserve Bank and Absa.
The Constitutional Court ruled that she should even personally carry some of the costs of that case.
In May, Mkhwebane found that the “corporatisation” of the horse racing industry due to a 1997 Gauteng government decision had failed society and helped enrich Phumelela through the levies it receives from bookmakers.
“The process of corporatisation of the industry was not in the public interest at all. It better served the rich and the elite in the society, thus making the rich richer,” Mkhwebane found.
She ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa to appoint a ministerial committee to establish a thoroughbred horse racing regulator, for premiers to withdraw the bookmaker levy fees paid to Phumelela and for premiers to ask Ramaphosa to get the Special Investigating Unit to investigate the industry.
Phumelela wants the public protector to personally pay 25% of the legal costs ordered against her office.
“This is not the first time that the public protector has failed to disclose contemplated remedial action in a provisional report,” Phumelela says in court papers.
“Phumelela contends that the public protector’s remedial action is unlawful and unconstitutional in three main respects: first – it unlawfully interferes with parliamentary legislative authority; second – it unlawfully interferes with provincial legislative authority; and third, it requires amendments to provincial legislation, and thus again unlawfully interferes with provincial legislative authority. This kind of remedial action has previously been declared to be unlawful.”
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)