Private forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan has apologised for referring to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane as a “Zuptoid” and that she does the bidding of the “Zuptas”, but claimed he only apologised to avoid trouble.
In fact, the investigator has vowed to launch a High Court application to review the specific section of the Public Protector Act, which outlaws the act of insulting the public protector.
“To hell with it. The Act is vague,” O’Sullivan said. “Where is the insult because she was appointed by former president Jacob Zuma. She cannot deny that. We will launch a High Court application. It is not on top of the list of priorities but it will be done.”
In February, the public protector’s legal unit wrote a letter to O’Sullivan, giving him a seven-day ultimatum to apologise to Mkhwebane and retract the remarks in a comment sent to a journalist.
In the e-mail, sent to a journalist of The Citizen on February 19, O’Sullivan wrote: “Although we all know that Mkhwebane is a Zuptoid and does the bidding of the Zuptas.”
According to the ultimatum letter, the “slanderous” e-mail was allegedly copied to several people in the police, parliament and police watchdog, the Independent Investigative Directorate.
In the letter, Muntu Sithole, from the public protector’s legal services, warned O’Sullivan that in terms of section 11 (1) of the Public Protector Act, any person who insults the public protector could be liable for a fine of up to R40,000 or a jail term of up to a year or both, if found guilty.
Oupa Segalwe, Mkhwebane’s spokesperson, confirmed that O’Sullivan had apologised in an e-mail sent early last month.
“O’Sullivan retracted his slandering of (Mkhwebane) and apologised.
“He acknowledged that his were ‘disparaging’ remarks against the public protector, explaining that he had not been aware that the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994 outlawed such conduct,” he said.
But O’Sullivan denied that he acknowledged that his remarks were “disparaging”.
“I only retracted and apologised to avoid litigation. I have since decided to take the section of the Act on review, as it is patently unlawful, as is clear form my e-mail thread. Mkhwebane will be served in due course with the relevant court application,” he said.
Mkhwebane has recently come under fire for her controversial findings, statements and probes, with the DA demanding that National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise initiate a parliamentary process to probe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
The move came after a High Court in Pretoria ruling, setting aside her report on the Gupta-linked Estina dairy farm in Vrede – the latest in several court findings against Mkhwebane.