Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane Ordered to Repay Over R5 Million for Wasteful Expenditure

Former Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane ordered to repay over R5M for alleged wasteful expenditure during her tenure, highlighting accountability issues in public office.

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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane Ordered to Repay Over R5 Million for Wasteful Expenditure

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane Ordered to Repay Over R5 Million for Wasteful Expenditure

Former Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been ordered to pay back more than R5 million to the office she once occupied for alleged wasteful expenditure during her tenure. The current Public Protector, Kholeka Gcaleka, sent a damning letter to Mkhwebane demanding the repayment of the funds, which include R31,000 for computers, an iPad and an iPhone, at least R2 million spent on her accommodation, at least R3 million in legal costs, and R40,000 owed for other assets.

The Public Protector South Africa (PPSA) initially gave Mkhwebane until April 23, 2024 to respond to the allegations, but she requested an extension to April 30. The wasteful expenditure claims were first revealed by the PPSA during a briefing to Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services in October 2022.

Why this matters: This development is the latest in an ongoing dispute between the current and former public protectors, highlighting issues of accountability and proper use of public funds. The outcome could set a precedent for how similar cases are handled in the future.

Mkhwebane has also been embroiled in a legal battle with the PPSA over her R10 million gratuity, which the office has refused to pay. The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria recently removed Mkhwebane's litigation from the urgent court roll, stating that the matter was "not ripe for hearing" and ordered the PPSA to pay punitive legal costs.

The demand for repayment comes amid numerous crises facing South Africa, including collapsing infrastructure, water shortages, rising crime, and discrimination in the workplace and schools. The office of the public protector was placed in a "seriously invidious position" when parliament would not guide it over what to do about Mkhwebane's exit gratuity, according to correspondence now before the court.

Key Takeaways

  • Former Public Protector Mkhwebane ordered to repay over R5M in alleged wasteful spending.
  • Current Public Protector Gcaleka demands repayment for expenses like R2M on accommodation, R3M in legal costs.
  • Mkhwebane requested extension to respond, faces legal action if she fails to repay funds.
  • Dispute highlights accountability issues, could set precedent for handling similar cases.
  • Mkhwebane also in legal battle with PPSA over R10M gratuity, which court deemed "not ripe for hearing".