Mkhwebane lays criminal charges against minister of state security over Gordhan

State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba. Picture: Gallo Images

State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba. Picture: Gallo Images

The public protector accuses the minister of ‘interference with the functioning of her office and contempt for her.’

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has released a statement which details why she has laid criminal charges against Minister of State Security Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba.

Mkhwebane says she laid charges at the Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria for what she sees as “interference with the functioning of her office and contempt for her”.

According to the public protector, Letsatsi-Duba failed to hand over a declassified document relating to the alleged violation of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act by former minister of finance and current minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan.

“It is my respectful view that the Minister’s failure to avail the declassified report as subpoenaed amounts to contempt of the Public Protector and interference with the functioning of my office, and is therefore an offence,” Mkhwebane said.

“The Constitution makes it clear that no person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of independent constitutional institutions such as my office,” she continued.

“The Constitutional Court has clarified this further, explaining that, in doing my work, I am not to be inhibited, undermined or sabotaged and that my powers are ‘not supposed to bow down to anybody’.”

“In terms of section 7(4)(a) of the Public Protector, read with section 7(5) of the same legislation, the Public Protector has the power to direct any person to submit an affidavit or appear before her to give evidence or produce any document, which has a bearing on a matter under investigation. She may also examine the person,” the statement says.

“Section 11 of the Act provides that any person who without just cause refuses or fails to comply with a direction of request under section 7(4) referred to above or refuses to answer questions put to them under that section or gives answer which they know to be false shall be guilty of an offense. According to the act, any person convicted of such an offense shall be liable to a fine not exceeding R40000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months or both.

“In addition, section 181(2) of the Constitution requires the Public Protector to be impartial and to exercise her powers and perform her functions without fear, favour or prejudice while section 181(4) thereof provides that no person may interfere with the functioning of the Public Protector.”

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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