Judgement Reserved In Gordhan-Mkhwebane Court Battle

Julius Malema says the EFF will fight to the death defending the Office
of the Public Protector from unscrupulous politicians who are hell-bent on
undermining it.

“We are here to say, if one can interdict the remedial actions willy-nilly, we
may as well close the office of the Public Protector,” Malema told his
supporters outside the Pretoria High Court Tuesday.

The EFF had applied as the intervening party in support of Busisiwe Mkhwebane opposing Pravin Gordhan’s urgent application to interdict her report and recommendations on the so-called SARS ‘rogue unit.’

“Cyril Ramaphosa must stop being a coward and act against Pravin
Gordhan. Nobody should be above the constitution and no one is above the
law. We came to court because the Public Protector found that Pravin
Gordhan and his friends founded an illegal intelligence unit called the
Rogue Unit.”

Malema said: “If you interdict the public protector’s remedial actions, you
are effectively closing that office. Without implementation of the PP’s
remedial actions that office will not be able to serve ordinary people who
cannot afford lawyers to go to court.”

Gordhan’s legal action was spurred after Mkhwebane found that he violated the executive ethics code in the SARS investigative unit matter, and recommended that President Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against Gordhan within 30 days.

Gordhan asked the court, on an urgent basis, to suspend and interdict the
enforcement of the remedial orders by the public protector, pending the
final determination of a review application to be determined at a later date.

Gordhan’s lawyer, Adv. Wim Trengrove, argued that there was no basis for remedial action against Gordhan, recommended by the public protector, to be implemented on an urgent basis.

Trengrove told the court that recent court rulings, particularly the
Constitutional Court judgement on Monday, have proven that Mkhwebane has harmed the standing of the public protector’s office.

Trengrove also disputed Mkhwebane’s findings, arguing that there was no
evidence that Gordhan approved the SARS ‘rogue unit’ with unlawful
purpose.

“The purpose of the unit was to combat exportation and manufacturing of
drugs, harvesting of abalone and the smuggling of cigarettes,” he said.

Trengrove argued that Mkhwebane’s finding that Gordhan misled parliament was irrational.

Advocate Thabani Masuku, representing the Public Protector, said Gordhan
accused the public protector of supporting state capture and of playing
politics, and as such felt obliged to oppose the interdict application.

Masuku said Gordhan’s interdict application contained insults and personal
attacks on the integrity of the Public Protector, including referring to her as
‘incompetent’ and ‘legally illiterate.’

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi argued that an easily granted interdict
would stunt the public protector’s office, and that Gordhan must show that
this was an exceptional case to be granted an interdict.

Judge Sulet Potterill reserved judgment.

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