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Court Rule Out Mkhwebane’s Bid Over Accessing Zuma’s Tax Records

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

SOUTH AFRICA, CAPE TOWN – The Constitutional Court on Tuesday morning dismissed Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s appeal to access personal tax information of former President Jacob Zuma on the basis that it does not reach the Constitutional Court’s jurisdiction.

Delivering the court’s judgment virtually, Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga denied Mkhwebane’s leave to appeal.

“The court takes the view that the view against the High Court’s dismissal of the counter-application does not engage this court’s jurisdiction as it simply demands the reconsideration of the application of uncontroversial legal principles. The court thus dismisses the application for leave to appeal the High Court’s dismissal of the counter-application,” the judge said.

This follows a High Court ruling against her in March in Pretoria, declaring that taxpayer information was confidential.

The South African Revenue Service took court action to stop Mkhwebane from accessing Zuma’s tax records in 2017.

Mkhwebane also appealed the personal costs order against her in the initial ruling.

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But that was one small win for Mkhwebane personally – the court criticised the High Court slapping down its personal costs order.

“Economic Freedom Fighters and Public Protector vs Gordhan are most worrisome on the award of personal cost orders against the Public Protector by the High Court,” the judge said.

Last week Monday, the Pretoria High Court set aside Mkhwebane’s report into a South African Revenue Services investigation unit, known as the “rogue” unit.

The court found she relied on discredited information, showing bias against Gordhan and former deputy Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay. The court also ordered Mkhwebane to personally pay 15% of Gordhan’s, as well as Pillay’s and George Magashula’s legal costs.

In another scathing ruling against Mkhwebane, the High Court ruled the investigation into the so-called ‘rogue unit’ fell outside of her jurisdiction and related to events before her time in office, yet she still pursued it.

In 2019, the apex court confirmed a High Court’s order that Mkhwebane personally pay for 15% of the South African Reserve Bank’s legal fees in the Bankorp lifeboat matter.

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Mkhwebane was slapped with the punitive costs order because it was found she lied under oath and failed to conduct herself in a manner befitting of her office.

EWN

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