Former South African Public Protector Mkhwebane Faces R5.1 Million Demand for Unlawful Expenses

Former South African Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane claims her office demands she repay R5.1M for unlawful expenses, raising accountability questions as she fights removal from office and gratuity payment.

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Israel Ojoko
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Former South African Public Protector Mkhwebane Faces R5.1 Million Demand for Unlawful Expenses

Former South African Public Protector Mkhwebane Faces R5.1 Million Demand for Unlawful Expenses

On April 22, 2024, former South African Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane claims that her former office has demanded she pay back R5.1 million for unlawful luxury accommodation and personal legal costs incurred during her term. In a Newzroom Afrika interview, Mkhwebane initially stated that the costs were related to litigation, but later provided an explanation that they were for expenses incurred while "performing my responsibilities as the Public Protector" in cases she was defending.

Mkhwebane, who was removed from her position following a parliamentary process that found her unfit to hold office, claims that her former office was "demanding some monies for the court cases for legal expenses which were incurred during my term as Public Protector." However, the costs she is potentially liable for are not limited to litigation expenses, as she initially stated.

The former Public Protector's removal from office has also raised questions about whether she should receive a R10 million gratuity. Parliament's legal advisors declined to provide guidance on this matter, with a letter dated December 14, 2023, revealing that the chief parliamentary legal adviser, advocate Zuraya Adhikarie, told the Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) that her office was "not aware of any provision in law that empowers the National Assembly to give directions and guidance" on whether or not the gratuity should be paid.

Why this matters: The case of Busisiwe Mkhwebane highlights the importance of accountability and transparency in public office. The demand for repayment of unlawful expenses serves as a reminder that public officials are not above the law and must adhere to ethical standards.

As the investigation into Mkhwebane's expenses continues, the outcome will likely have implications for future public officials and the standards to which they are held. The former Public Protector's case also raises questions about the legal framework surrounding the removal of public officials and the benefits they are entitled to upon leaving office.

Key Takeaways

  • Mkhwebane claims PPSA demands she repay R5.1M for unlawful expenses
  • Mkhwebane's removal raises questions on her R10M gratuity entitlement
  • Parliament's legal advisors declined to guide on Mkhwebane's gratuity
  • Mkhwebane's case highlights importance of accountability for public officials
  • Mkhwebane's case raises questions on legal framework for removing officials