Lawyer-less Mkhwebane calls for inquiry chair to recuse himself amid corruption allegations

The suspended public protector was left without a lawyer after Hope Chaane was hospitalised on Monday, but her inquiry will proceed on Thursday.

Suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Image: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

Suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is left without legal representation and has pleaded with the chair of the Section 194 inquiry to recuse himself because of alleged corruption.

Mkhwebane was expected to testify before the Parliamentary committee on Wednesday after her new legal representative sent a letter on Sunday, requesting the matter be postponed as it was set to sit on Monday.

The inquiry is on her fitness for office, despite her term ending on October 14. 

But on Monday night, her attorney Hope Chaane, who was to brief her legal counsel Dali Mpofu, was admitted to hospital.

While the Public Protector South Africa announced in March that the R4m budget for Mkhwebane’s legal fees has dried up, they appointed a state attorney to take over, announcing it in a letter addressed to the committee chair by the CEO Thandi Sibanyoni. 

“The letter serves to confirm that the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) agrees with the proposal to terminate the attorney's mandate and the insourcing of the briefing to the Office of State Attorney (Pretoria). The State Attorney (Pretoria) is hereby mandated to proceed to manage the process as proposed.”

Mkhwebane, however, said she had only heard of this on Wednesday morning ahead of the inquiry.

She had sent a letter to the chair on Tuesday, requesting that he voluntarily recuse himself and should he not, her legal representative would make a formal application on her behalf.

“I was going to instruct the attorneys... the attorneys have been abruptly withdrawn or their services terminated by the state attorney without even telling me. I also heard about it when I came here. The CEO didn’t discuss it with me or even the solicitor-general. That is one of the critical issues.”

She said she requires full representation of her choice and should be consulted and involved when appointing one.


The sitting started with a 90-minute debate on whether the section 194 committee chair Qubudile Dyantyi should recuse himself.

Mkhwebane stated in her letter that Dyantyi should step down due to allegations of corruption levelled against him.

It is alleged that Mkhwebane’s husband, David Skosana, was contacted by the late ANC MP Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who allegedly tried to solicit a bribe on behalf of herself, Dyantyi and ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina. A criminal charge was opened by Mkhwebane regarding the alleged extortion.

Joemat-Pettersson died on Tuesday. The circumstances around her death remain unclear.

“There is inconvertible evidence in the form of WhatsApp messages and other conversations confirming the allegations beyond any question,” Mkhwebane said. 

This recusal was supported by the EFF, with treasurer general Omphile Maotwe and leader Julius Malema calling for the chair to voluntarily step aside.

But Dyantyi said he will not allow the sitting to look at matters outside its agenda and that these allegations are before the ethics committee and the speaker of parliament.

“[The allegations] have been channelled to proper platforms where they belong. Someone reported those allegations to enforcement agencies. Do not try to pre-empt or put pressure to try and define how they need to do that. If the police are investigation these allegations, allow the police to do their work. Let us not try to short circuit that,” he said.


An irate Mkhwebane said she was willing to play the recording for the committee as well as share the WhatsApp evidence as other MPs referred to these allegations as “rumours” and “hearsay”.

Dyantyi emphasised that the playing of the recording would not be necessary.

But Mkhwebane said she was not comfortable with him presiding over the matter.

“Hence I say to you, I find it difficult to appear before you as the chairperson who has alleged to have sent Joemat-Pettersson to come and solicit a bribe from my husband. I have heard the audio, the recordings and those will be made available to the committee. The public will hear for themselves where you and Joemat-Petterson are implicated in that recording. The police were given that recording. I couldn’t just sit after hearing it and I said there is no way I am not opening a case.”

But Dyantyi ruled that for a recusal to be considered, a formal application needs to be made by Friday at 1pm to which he will respond in writing by Monday at 1pm. No oral applications would be heard, he ruled.

Despite Mkhwebane not having a legal representative of her choice, Dyantyi adjourned the sitting, stating it will resume as planned on Friday without delays.

He dismissed calls by other MPs for Mkhwebane to display the evidence and recording for the committee.

“I have taken note of all the issues you [Mkhwebane] have commented on. Friday’s business is the resumption of the inquiry. Our focus is on the mandate of this inquiry and nothing else.”

LISTEN | Audio recordings implicating Dyantyi, Majodina, Joemat-Pettersson will be made public: Mkhwebane


Suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Image: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

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