Court date looms for Mkhwebane and Dyantyi after deadlock

At the current rate, the courts would soon have to step in and play referee in the dispute between suspended public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Qubudile Dyantyi, the chairperson of the parliamentary inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.

Mkhwebane has accused Dyantyi of undermining her constitutional rights and wants him to recuse himself from the inquiry.

Dyantyi is mentioned in the audio recording of the late ANC MP Tina Joemat-Pattersson as one of the ANC MPs who solicited a R200K bribe from her husband, David Skosana, to collapse the inquiry.

Dyantyi has rejected the request and is pushing ahead with the inquiry.

On Tuesday, he challenged Mkhwebane’s lawyers to bring direct evidence that he ever spoke to Skosana.

“I trust that in your client’s application, you will pertinently point to the direct evidence of interactions between myself and Skosana in relation to the allegations being levelled, alternatively that your client will explain why she perceives anything other than direct communication between myself and Skosana as not being hearsay evidence,” according to Dyantyi.

The matter is therefore likely to be decided in court.

Dyantyi’s comments on Tuesday were in response to a letter Mkhwebane’s lawyers, Chaane Attorneys, sent to his office on Monday.

The letter highlighted that Mkhwebane was not in a position to respond to the 1 000 questions sent to her by committee members and evidence leaders since the issue of her legal representation remains unresolved, and the relevant directives remain disputed.

“In any event, these ‘deadlines’ are unreasonable and irrational because they are also unrealistic,” according to Chaane Attorneys.

“For example, it is the height of absurdity to expect our client to answer more than 1 000 questions in the space of 10 days and without the assistance of counsel on brief.”

Lawyer Hope Chaane said there was obvious illegality in the fact that the new directives were introduced on June 9 2023, when Mkhwebane was not legally represented due to the inexplicable termination of her lawyer’s mandate on June 7 2023, and the apparent conflict of interest in trying to get the state attorney to take over.

“On that day, advocate Mkhwebane expressly rejected the directives, but you went ahead to introduce and adopt them,” said Chaane.

He said Mkhwebane also rejected the unilateral and absurd imposition on her of any obligation to pay the legal fees, which may run into millions of rands, in the likely event of the allocated funds, which were recently estimated to be in the region of R3.5-million.

In the meantime, he said: “It would be prudent to deal with the big elephant in the room, namely your alleged involvement in the extortion or bribery or corruption scandal revealed by the late Joemat-Pettersson shortly before her mysterious death.

“Despite two separate requests, no response has yet been received from the state attorney or PPSA [Public Protector South Africa]. For that reason, we have indeed extended briefs to counsel to start the preparatory work, with effect from July 1 2023,” he said.

Chaane said in addition to WhatsApp messages exchanged between Skosana and Joemat-Pettersson, who was then a member of Dyantyi’s committee, further evidence in the form of audio recordings fingered Dyantyi as one of the two people who sent her to solicit a bribe from Skosana.

“That new evidence will be made available to the committee in the making of the proposed formal recusal application for your recusal,” he said.

He said Dyantyi previously rejected pleas for him to step down voluntarily, giving as a main reason the fact that he regarded the WhatsApp evidence as “hearsay”.

“This was an incorrect characterisation in law. It originally came from a misguided journalist before being strangely embraced by you. It would seem that neither you nor the said journalist know the meaning of hearsay evidence.”

He said to avoid any unnecessary debates about the meaning of hearsay evidence and/or the exceptions to that rule, Mkhwebane had obtained Skosana’s agreement to testify before the committee regarding the interactions and conversations that he personally held with Joemat-Pettersson, which are also captured in the audio recordings.

“With or without the recordings, he will be able to shed light on the corruption allegations implicating Joemat-Pettersson, [ANC chief whip] Pemmy Majodina, and you.”

In response, Dyantyi said the issue of recusal had been raised several times, including in Mkhwebane’s numerous media interviews.

“She did not bring it within the expedited timeframes I had previously set for purposes of ensuring that the matter be dealt with swiftly,” said Dyantyi.

“Since then, I have repeatedly stated that it is her right to bring such an application and that your client must table a written recusal application, at which point I will then deal with it.

“However, for reasons not known to me, this application has not been forthcoming and is not being regarded by your client as urgent. Be that as it may, I will attend to it when it is submitted, as I have previously undertaken to do.”


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