Norman Arendse told the court Parliament’s portfolio committee on communication failed to indicate the legal basis on which it was acting against Tshabalala for allegedly misrepresenting her academic qualifications.
But, he said, since the committee believed it had the power under the country’s broadcasting legislation to recommend to the National Assembly that she be suspended and potentially dismissed, it was running a disciplinary inquiry.
“We grapple with the chairwoman (of the committee) saying this is a parliamentary process, not a hearing,” he argued.
Arendse said if the court were to agree with him that in fact his client was facing a disciplinary hearing, she had legal rights, including that of a presumption of innocence.
He added that it was therefore “astonishing” that committee chairwoman Joyce Moloi-Moropa said the onus was on Tshabalala to produce copies of the degrees she claimed to hold.
Denzil Potgieter, for Parliament, argued that Arendse was mistaken in arguing the inquiry amounted to a disciplinary hearing, and that it was an ordinary administrative process.
It was one, he added, that had left the ordinary man in the street wondering why Tshabalala did not simply produce proof of her university qualifications and laid the matter to rest.
Arendse was due to respond after lunch.
Tshabalala has been locked in a stand-off with MPs for months after it was reported in July that she had misrepresented her qualifications.
She stated on her CV that she had a BCom degree from the University of SA (Unisa) and a post-graduate degree in labour relations. Unisa has since stated that, according to its records, she had neither of these qualifications.