Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane clarifies incorrect media reports

Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane has noted with sadness a report carried in the Sunday Times newspaper on 27 November 2016, alleging that she has pressed charges against her predecessor.

According to the article, the basis for the "charges" is the alleged leak of an audio recording of a meeting between her predecessor and President Jacob Zuma, which was held as part of the so-called "State Capture" investigation.

The article, under the headline "Zuma guns for Thuli", also claimed that Ms Vytjie Mentor was among the aggrieved persons that approached the Public Protector over the alleged leaking of the recordings of the meetings with the former Public Protector as part of the investigation.

It is not true that Adv. Mkhwebane laid charges against her predecessor. Instead, she opened a case at the Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria, requesting an investigation into the alleged leaks to establish if they amount to a breach of section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act.

The decision to open a case was informed by complaints from the Presidency and the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly. In addition to these, Adv. Mkhwebane received a media enquiry from Noseweek magazine, in which the publication claimed to be in possession of a recording of her predecessor's meeting with Ms Mentor, also relating to the "State Capture" investigation.

In the past few weeks, there was another newspaper article based on what purported to be a recording of another meeting between Adv. Mkhwebane's predecessor and Economic Freedom Fighters leader, Mr. Julius Malema. This meeting, too, related to the "State Capture" matter.

Adv. Mkhwebane is concerned that these alleged leakages of evidence could compromise the trust that the public has in her office. It is this concern that led to her opening a case for investigation.

"In order to maintain the credibility of the Public Protector South Africa and for the people to trust the institution we need to safeguard whatever evidence such people, including whistle-blowers, give to us," she said.

Adv. Mkhwebane wishes to point out that only the above information was shared with a Sunday Times journalist during an interview in Durban on Saturday, 26 November 2016. It is not clear how the newspaper interpreted the information in a manner it did.

The Public Protector is further saddened by the harmful statements attributed to Ms Mentor following the Sunday Times story. She will take up her grievances with both Ms Mentor and the Sunday Times privately.

Source: Government of South Africa.

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