High court sets aside public protector's findings against Pravin Gordhan

The high court in Pretoria has set aside Pubic Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report accusing public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan of irregularly approving the early retirement of former SA Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay with benefits in 2010.
The high court in Pretoria has set aside Pubic Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's report accusing public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan of irregularly approving the early retirement of former SA Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay with benefits in 2010.
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been dealt another legal blow.

A full bench of the high court in Pretoria has overturned her report that found public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan had irregularly approved the early retirement of former SA Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay with benefits in 2010.

Gordhan was the commissioner of Sars at the time. In her report, Mkhwebane recommended that President Cyril Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against Gordhan. Mkhwebane’s probe was prompted by an anonymous complainant.

Gordhan, who denied any wrongdoing, did not take it lying down and took legal action last year to have the report overturned. Pillay and former Sars commissioner Oupa Magashule then joined Gordhan in the litigation against Mkhwebane. On Thursday, the high court set the report aside.

“What the court is required and permitted to do in the application of this nature, is merely to ask itself whether the decisionmaker acted rationally in making the decision she or he made, and for that purpose one looks at the reasons given by the decisionmaker for the decision she or he made and it is not required or permitted for the court to inquire into the question whether there might be other reasons for the same conclusion,” the 111-page judgment reads.

“It is in that respect that we finally conclude that the public protector’s decision [findings], and by extension her report, should be reviewed and set aside.”

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