The Constitutional Court announced on Friday its decision to dismiss an application for leave to appeal which the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane lodged in a case which involves the Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and the South African Revenue Service (Sars) “rogue unit” report.
Last year, the EFF and Mkhwebane approached the Constitutional Court, seeking to appeal an order of the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, which interdicted the public protector’s remedial action against Gordhan while he took the report on review.
The constitutional court said in a statement that it has set aside costs against EFF and Mkhwebane in her personal capacity, but ordered the public protector to pay costs of Gordhan, former Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula and deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, including costs of their legal counsel.
It said the test for interdicting the remedial action in a report of Mkhwebane was set out in the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa).
After EFF had called for a “harsher” test to be developed for interim interdicts against the public protector, the supreme court found that the party’s argument was without merit.
“This test was correctly applied by the high court and therefore leave to appeal on the merits is dismissed,” it said.
The supreme court further said that: “However, leave is granted to appeal certain aspects of the high court’s costs order and the appeals of the EFF and public protector in this regard are upheld.”
The Constitutional Court also noted the substantial public interest in the matter as well as criticism of both the courts and Mkhwebane, but warned of the dangers of unsubstantiated criticism against both, which could undermine constitutional democracy.
(Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa)