Profile of Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane: Public Protector-RSA

Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane holds B. Proc and LLB degrees from the University of Limpopo, 1989-1992. She also possesses a Diploma in Corporate Law as well as a Higher Diploma in Tax Law, both from the University of Johannesburg. 

She started working full time as Public Prosecutor in December 1994 to 1996. She moved from Mkobolo Magistrates court to Kwa Mhlanga Magistrates Court working as Public Prosecutor.

She then moved to Department of Justice; Head office, in 1996 to work as Legal Administration Officer within International Relations division. Her area of responsibility was extradition law and mutual legal assistance. She was also trained in Siracusa, Italy on Extradition Law.

She also participated in various human rights law projects and was part of the team that drafted South Africa’s Country Report on Human and People’s Rights which was deposited to the African Union and was further a member of the Coordinating Committee that drafted the National Action Plan on Human Rights, which was deposited to the United Nations High Commissioner on 10 December 1998.

She worked as a Senior Researcher at the South African Human Rights Commission from 1998 to 1999, where she was tasked with compiling a country report on status of human rights in South Africa.

She further worked for the Public Protector from 1999 to 2005. Some of her achievements whilst working for the Public Protector are as follows:

·         Oversaw the establishment and successful launch of the Public Protector Office in Gauteng as Acting Provincial Head.

·         Established of the visiting points at various institutions, including municipal Thusong offices in Soweto. 

·         Recommended ways to improve service delivery to the Compensation Commissioner on complaints received; and

·         Investigated disclosure of HIV/AIDS status of patients without their consent, steps taken by the Health Professions Council and produced a report.

Her portfolio involves a strong record of 11 years in Senior Management within Immigration Services at the Department of Home Affairs.

She provided strategic and leadership of refugee services across the country especially Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, where Refugee Reception offices were located. She monitored the rollout of the integrated biometric system to five Refugee Reception Offices, increased staff compliment from 20 to 300. 

Due to political instability in Zimbabwe around 2006/07, she managed to provide strategic direction for processing asylum applications, which spiked from 50 000 to more than 200 000.

She participated in the drafting and the signing of the tripartite plan of operation for the repatriation of Angolan Refugees between the South African Department of Home Affairs, Angolan Department of Home Affairs and United National High Commissioner for Refugees. She was also:

·         Appointed as the Board member of the Refugee Relief Fund Board by the Minister of Social Development

·         Participated at various United Nations High Commission for Refugees EXCOM meetings in Geneva, Switzerland

·         Participated at the African Union meetings in Ethiopia relating to Refugees, one key achievement in this regard was the adoption of the AU Convention                      relating to Displaced persons in Africa.

·         Represented SA at SADC Refugee Commissioners meetings.

·         Presented papers internationally on refugee policy in Germany and within Southern Africa.

Adv. Mkhwebane facilitated the establishment of the Visa outsource offices both in Beijing and Shanghai. This included standardisation of operations of the two Missions, improved customer service and service delivery to deepen political and economic relations with the People’s Republic of China. On her departure from China, she negotiated opening more such visa facilities, since government had to approve such if centres needs to be opened in areas where there is no SA Mission.

Due to excellent service delivery and the impact made on the relations between SA and China, an article was published in the local China Daily newspaper.

Adv. Mkhwebane drafted the Chapter on Immigration Green Paper relating to Management of asylum seekers and refugees.

She started working for State Security Agency as Senior Analyst in July 2016. Her responsibilities included advising Director Domestic Branch on compliance to constitutional provisions whilst protecting the state actors, which are people, government, values, territory and legislation and stakeholder relations.

Adv. Mkhwebane was appointed South Africa’s fourth Public Protector for a non-renewable seven-year term of office by President Jacob Zuma effective 15 October 2016.

This followed a thorough and transparent selection process carried out by a parliamentary multi-party, ad-hoc committee. All but one political party in the committee endorsed her candidacy.

In July 2018, Adv. Mkhwebane was appointed the First Vice President of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA), a continental body of Public Protector-like institutions. She is also the Board Chairperson of the Durban-based African Ombudsman Research Centre, which assists the AOMA with research, information, capacity-building and advocacy.

In December 2018, she was elected the President of AOMA during the association’s sixth General Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda.