Former lead investigator testifies in PP impeachment inquiry

Busisiwe Mkhwebane did not follow protocol when producing a report on the South African Reserve Bank, according to testimony given to a parliamentary committee by Tebogo Kekana, a former lead investigator for the Office of the Public Protector (SARB).

Kekana testified on Monday after being summoned to appear in the hearings into the public protector’s eligibility to continue serving. According to Kekana’s declaration, he saw multiple alarming instances of Mkhwebane’s improper behavior while working at the public protector’s office.

“I felt that I needed to report misconduct which I had observed at the office of the public protector.”Kekana testified to the inquiry that a critical deviation from the process occurred when Mkhwebane’s interim CIEX report, also known as the SARB report, was never properly verified before it was disclosed.

He claimed that while he was producing the final report, Mkhwebane instructed him to find a method to add a suggestion that the Constitution be changed to accommodate the nationalization of SARB.

“None of the drafts which I prepared included a recommendation that the SARB be nationalized. This was because I did not believe that this recommendation was warranted based on the findings of the investigation. In fact, I thought that such recommendation was bizarre,“ Kekana said.

“I was also informed by Mr. Reginald Ndou that Advocate Mkhwebane had instructed him not to make any findings in the report against any politician. We were accordingly forced to remove any adverse findings contained in the report against any politician, including Ace Magashule, who was the Premier of the ANC, and Mosebenzi Zwane, the then MEC of Agriculture at the time.” Ndou served as the integration unit’s executive manager for the provincial probe.

In his affidavit, Kekana also stated how he had informed that Mkhwebane did not want the Gupta Leaks report to be used in the Vrede dairy farm investigation or for any conclusions to be made against politicians like Ace Magashule, a former Free State premier, and Mosebenzi Zwane, a MEC for the Free State Department of Agriculture.

He said that Mkhwebane took the Vrede dairy farm case from the initial investigator after claiming that she was a Democratic Alliance member. He was then designated as the case’s lead investigator (DA).

He said that the majority of the evidence required for the investigation was there in the Gupta family members’ leaked emails. Mkhwebane, however, declared that the emails were not to be used in the investigation or included in the report.

In 2011, Kekana began work for the public protector’s office. Mkhwebane was assigned as a senior investigator in the quality assurance unit following his 2016 appointment. He was moved to the public protector’s private office in January 2017 and reported to Mkhwebane directly. In August 2019, the 44-year-old was put on precautionary suspension. Mr. Kekane was placed on administrative leave, but he is contesting this in the labor court. The High Court declared the report unlawful, and the Constitutional Court rejected her appeal based on this. In relation to the situation, she is also charged with perjury.

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