Public Protector welcomes Eastern Cape High Court judgment on review application of her Mandela Funeral report

The Public Protector welcomes the Eastern Cape High Court’s dismissal on Thursday, March 08, 2019 of an application by provincial government Director-General, Ms. Marion Mbina-Mthembu, to have Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s findings on the plundering of public resources in the name of the funeral and memorial services of the late former President, Nelson Mandela, reviewed and set aside.

In December 2017, Adv. Mkhwebane released her 333-page report following an investigation on alleged misappropriation of public funds, improper conduct and maladministration by the provincial government and several other organs of state, including four municipalities, in connection with expenditure incurred for the funeral and memorial services.

The investigation found, among other maladies, evidence of widespread irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the procurement of goods and services for the memorial and funeral. Such expenditure was found to have failed to meet the test of fairness, equity, transparency, competitiveness and cost-effectiveness.

Last May, it emerged that Ms. Mbina-Mthembu was unhappy with Adv. Mkhwebane’s finding that that the provincial improperly diverted public funds amounting to R300m from the Eastern Cape Development Corporation’s social infrastructure delivery programme towards the memorial and funeral services.

At the core of Ms. Mbina-Mthembu’s quarrel with the finding was Adv. Mkhwebane’s conclusion that the provincial Executive Committee took the decision to divert the funds on the DG’s advice as the then head of the Provincial Treasury.

At the time, Ms. Mbina-Mthembu called the Public Protector “idiotic”, prompting Adv. Mkhwebane to caution her for the use of demeaning language to express frustration with the conclusions of the investigation.

On Thursday the high court upheld Adv. Mkhwebane’s findings, dismissing Ms. Mbina-Mthembu’s application with costs.

Adv. Mkhwebane is pleased that the court has affirmed her findings and welcomes this development as it paves the way for the full implementation of the remedial action she directed the various organs of state to take. She also welcomes the court’s decision to award her the costs, which will go a long way in augmenting her meagre litigation budget.

“To take the Public Protector’s report on review has never meant that the report is of poor quality. It’s similar to appealing a court judgment. It is merely a legal avenue available to aggrieved parties, who believe another forum could arrive at a different decision,” said Adv. Mkhwebane.

“A lot of work goes into the writing of our reports. Our investigation officials, who are legal brains in their own right, work rigorously to see to it that each finding is backed up by irrefutable evidence.”

Published Date: 
Friday, March 8, 2019