Apparent irritability and impatience is no sign of bias – Dyantyi

ANC MP Qubudile Dyantyi says his indifference to suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane‘s legal team is insufficient grounds for his recusal.

Dyantyi made the argument in his decision not to step down after he was implicated in allegations of extorting money from Mkhwebane’s husband David Skosana.

He cited a Constitutional Court decision by former chief justice Sadile Ngcobo dealing with reasonable suspicion of bias.

“Where my conduct may have been viewed by the legal team as a show of irritation or impatience, the Constitutional Court has indicated that the same does not give rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias,” he said.

In the cited ruling, Ngcobo argued that judicial officials were also humans. But he said if the hostile remarks attributed to the appellate judge were true, they were regrettable.

He was dealing with a dispute in which an appellate judge attacked, criticised, and humiliated the applicant’s erstwhile attorney.

The allegations included that on various occasions the judge rudely interrupted the attorney when the attorney tried to answer questions posed by the court.

The late ANC MP Tina Joemat-Pettersson allegedly told Skosana that Dyantyi and ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina sent her to solicit a bribe.

Skosana opened a corruption case against the two ANC MPs, who publicly denied the allegations.

Mkhwebane also used the same judgment to make a different point that Dyantyi was too hostile to continue heading the parliamentary probe into her competence.

She argued that there was a reasonable apprehension of bias if a judicial officer had an interest in the outcome of the case.

“Or it may also arise from conduct or utterances by a judicial officer prior to or during [the] proceedings,” Mkhwebane said, quoting Ngcobo.

She said Dyantyi’s enmity and hostility towards her constituted a sufficient reason for recusal.

“In the present case, the adversarial public posture of the chairperson against the [suspended] public protector is a ground for his recusal”.

For allegedly sending Joemat-Pettersson to engage privately with Skosana, for whatever reasons, she said, would constitute a violation of this fairness rule.

Mkhwebane said this was exactly the allegation made against Dyantyi.


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