EFF national chairperson Dali Mpofu took to Twitter on Monday to question Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s statement that she had not laid charges against her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela.
He and constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos had some fun with her statement, gently mocking the woman for saying that although she had indeed opened a case with the police against Madonsela, she had not laid charges.
“It is not true that Adv. Mkhwebane laid charges against her predecessor,” according to a statement released by the Office of the Public Protector.
Mkhwebane says she was “saddened” by a report in the Sunday Times that she had laid charges against Madonsela. This after Madonsela leaked the audio recordings between her and President Jacob Zuma from her interview with the president for the State of Capture report.
The president had claimed that Madonsela had not given him a chance to respond on the allegations against him in the report. She said she released the recordings to categorically show that was not the case.
The public protector insists she had not laid any charges against her predecessor. Instead, “she opened a case at the Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria, requesting an investigation into the alleged leaks to establish if they amount to a breach of section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act”.
“It is not true that Adv. Mkhwebane laid charges against her predecessor.
“The decision to open a case was informed by complaints from the Presidency and the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly.
“Adv. Mkhwebane is concerned that these alleged leakages of evidence could compromise the trust that the public has in her office. It is this concern that led to her opening a case for investigation.
“In order to maintain the credibility of the Public Protector South Africa and for the people to trust the institution, we need to safeguard whatever evidence such people, including whistle-blowers, give to us,” her office said.
“Adv. Mkhwebane wishes to point out that only the above information was shared with a Sunday Times journalist during an interview in Durban on Saturday, 26 November 2016. It is not clear how the newspaper interpreted the information in [the] manner it did.”
However, Twitter was having none of it, with Mpofu asking what the difference was between laying a charge and opening a case with the police:
What ON EARTH is the DIFFERENCE between "laying a charge" & "opening a case" with THE POLICE to investigate the commission of a CRIME?@eNCA
— Dali Mpofu (@AdvDali_Mpofu) November 28, 2016
De Vos’ response was quite tongue-in-cheek, with the inference being that there isn’t much difference at all.
Like the difference between dancing and jiving, being hungry or famished, being cold or freezing, being dumb or being stupid? https://t.co/KuIKdn0dWH
— Pierre de Vos (@pierredevos) November 28, 2016
To him, the act was synonymous with laying charges, because either way the police would need to investigate Madonsela to see if she has a case to answer. However, it is also clear from his response that the one (laying a charge) is slightly more “serious” than the other (opening a case).
The EFF supported Mkhwebane’s appointment as public protector, though the DA said on Monday that her actions had merely justified their earlier opposition to her.