Cape Town – Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s request to be excused from impeachment proceedings on Wednesday was again declined for the second day in a row.
This after Mkhwebane poured her heart out over how she felt about the way she was treated during the inquiry, and that she was still waiting for reasons why she was not excused from the proceedings in the absence of her legal representative.
She maintained there had not been any meetings scheduled for this week, except when she was to report on her legal representation on Tuesday.
At the start of Wednesday's proceedings, inquiry chairperson Qubudile Dyantyi allowed Mkhwebane to address the Section 194 Committee after he had received an email from her a few minutes earlier.
Mkhwebane said she had made a specific request that if the committee proceeded in the absence of her legal representative of choice, Advocate Dali Mpofu, she be given reasons for this.
“That has not been done. I am still waiting for that.”
She said her attorney of record, Theo Seanego, was also not excused despite asking due to his other commitments.
Mkhwebane said she had felt forced to sit in the proceedings against her will.
“I felt as if I am sitting here like a hostage,” she said.
She maintained that there were no scheduled sittings of committees this week until Dyantyi announced it on Tuesday afternoon.
But, Dyantyi said the ruling he made on Tuesday still stood.
“There is no re-discussion and/or re-opening of that ruling … We continue leading evidence of Mr Van der Merwe led by Advocate Bawa.
“Today we are continuing to complete this.”
He insisted that Seanego Attorneys should be in attendance at the proceedings.
“If they make a particular choice not to be here, that will have to be explained.
“Today, there is an expectation that Seanego is on the platform.”
Dyantyi said leading of evidence was on record and would be made available during cross-examination.
“We will show the programme later as to when that will happen, so we are under no obligation to pause and postpone this.
There is no legal impediment for us not to proceed with our hearing.”
The inquiry hearings were adjourned until next Wednesday to allow Mkhwebane’s legal team to prepare for cross examination of witnesses Neliswa Tejane on November 9 and Cornelius van der Merwe on November 10 and 11.
The inquiry will then take break in the week starting November 14 and allow Mkhwebane to prepare for the Constitutional Court hearing on November 24.
It will resume on November 28 with testimony by witnesses lined up by the public protector until December 9.
Upon resumption in the New Year, there will closing arguments over five days from January 23 and then deliberations by the committee on January 30.
The committee secretariat will then have two weeks to prepare a report to be adopted on February 17 and sent to Mkhwebane for comment for 20 days.
The public protector’s responses to the report will be considered on March 27 and a final report will be adopted for tabling in the National Assembly on March 29.