The Constitutional Court today upheld an order against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to personally pay a portion of the legal costs in a matter involving the South African Reserve Bank.

South Africa’s Constitutional Court. Source: SA Government News

“This court holds that the Public Protector’s entire model of investigation was flawed and that she was not honest about her engagements during the investigation,” said Justice Sisi Khampepe in the majority judgment.

In upholding the 2018 findings of the North Gauteng High Court, the country’s highest court found that Mkhwebane put forward “a number of falsehoods” in her controversial report of the time, in which she also ruled that Parliament should introduce a motion to amend the Constitution to change the SARB’s mandate to focus on economic growth.

The Constitutional Court ruling comes at the same time that President Cyril Ramaphosa has taken on Mkhwebane for a report against him that he has called “fundamentally and irretrievably flawed,” in which she found he had “deliberately misled” parliament and violated the executive ethics code in regards to a donation during the run-up to the 2017 campaign for ANC president.

In 2018 the North Gauteng High Court set aside the findings and remedial action of the Public Protector’s Absa/Bankorp report, in which she found that R1.125 billion in public funds were “misappropriated” by the SARB in the 1980s to Bankorp, which later became ABSA. She order ABSA to repay the funds.

Mkhwebane was ordered to personally repay 15 percent of SARB’s legal costs, while the office of the Public Protector was ordered to pay the remaining 85 percent.

The Constitutional Court dismissed SARB’s application for a declaratory order to find that Mkhwebane abused her office while she undertook the investigation.