There have always been questions about whether Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is protecting the public or publicly protecting those in and around the state capture web.
The probe she launched into the Estina dairy farm project in Vrede in the Free State was always going to be the acid test of where her loyalties – or capabilities – lay.
The DA and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) dragged her to court to have her report on the project set aside because, in the words of the DA, it was a “whitewash”.
At least R200 million in public funds meant for emerging black farmers in Vrede – and provided by the Free State government of the then premier, Ace Magashule – allegedly flowed to Estina, a company linked to the controversial Gupta family. Some of the money was allegedly used to pay for the Guptas’ lavish family wedding at Sun City resort in 2013.
The DA had asked Mkhwebane repeatedly to investigate Estina and specifically the role played by Magashule and other politicians.
Yesterday, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that Mkhwebane’s report was unconstitutional and invalid – primarily because the public protector failed to even interview politicians like Magashule at the centre of the claims.
Her report laid the blame at the door of government officials and ordered that Magashule institute disciplinary action against them.
Given what the court ruled, we cannot argue with the DA claim that this public protector report was a “whitewash”.
What is particularly painful about this cover-up is that it ignores completely the very people the office of the public protector was set up to protect – taxpayers and the poor people who should have been given a chance of a better life by the project.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane must go. She is a threat to real justice.