On Rational Radio this week, founder of Accountability Now Paul Hoffman revisits his nuclear attack on South Africa’s embattled Public Protector. After launching an application at the Legal Practice Council to have the PP disbarred, Hoffman explains that this could take some months – so he has opened the attack on two more fronts. This week Accountability Now laid criminal charges against Ms Mkhwebane for perjury and defeating the ends of justice – and has reported her to her own Public Protector office. – Alec Hogg
Joining us now is Paul Hoffman from Accountability. Paul you’re a popular guy. Lots of people wanted to get hold of you today, not surprising because you have launched another two barrels at the Public Protector. When we spoke a couple of weeks ago you had put forward a proposal to the Legal Practice Council to have her debarred. What happened there?
I got their acknowledgement of receipt of the complaint this morning and I think that the wheels of justice are grinding in the disciplinary corridors of the Legal Practice Council.
Right. What does that mean? They haven’t sat yet presumably to actually meet on the issue?
They will take the opportunity to look at the judgment and decide whether it has the seeds of a striking off application. I believe it does. Then they give her the opportunity of putting her side of the story. If they are satisfied that there is indeed a case, they will then apply to court for her to be struck off the roll of advocates.
Okay. And what’s the process. How long does that take.
That could be a matter of months, excluding appeals obviously. It could be done by the end of the year.
Okay. But you’re not waiting for that. You are now following in another line as well. And you’ve put forward this week two further steps. One very innovative. We’ll talk about that in a moment but firstly you’ve laid charges of perjury and defeating the ends of justice with the South African police services.
Yes. Those charges were accepted at the Ocean View police station on Monday morning and the Hawks in Pretoria are investigating. It’s a very simple investigation. They need to get hold of the original affidavits from the Constitutional Court and the judgment and place those before the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision on which charges to proceed on. We think that perjury is the easy one. It’s possible that a prosecutor will want to do perjury and defeating the ends of justice.
What is the sanction for that?
Well, she’ll go to jail.
That’s serious. Perjury.
Yes, certainly: for an officer of the court to be involved in misleading the court and lying under oath is a problem that goes to the root of the relationship between the court and the legal practitioner. It’s certainly an aggravating circumstance that a legal practitioner should depose to a perjured affidavit, which is what has happened. She falsely swore a version of the facts, which the court has rejected as false.
The second issue is that you’ve laid a complaint at the Public Protector itself. Now how does that work out?
The Public Protector’s office is not actually a one man band. It is an office with branches in all major centres and has a deputy, and there is absolutely no reason, if there is maladministration, for the Public Protector’s office not to get on and investigate the maladministration, which is apparent in the number of matters that have gone awry along the way.
So the deputy would then be the one doing the investigations.
Either the deputy or one of the senior members, if the deputy feels conflicted, will lead that investigation. Basically it is to compare the modus operandi of Thuli Madonsela’s leadership with the modus operandi of the current leadership. I suspect with an unfavourable outcome, and remedial action in the form of reverting to doing things the way that Thuli used to do them.
Now you also mentioned that there are five fires at the moment burning under the bum of the Public Protector. Take us through those five.
The ones that have been in circulation for some time are the investigation or the pending inquiry by the justice committee in parliament which is going to sit on the 3rd of September about her impeachment or what the Constitution calls a removal from office. The deputy president should suspend her while that investigation is pending. The third prong on the fork is the criminal case. The fourth is the disciplinary proceedings for striking off the roll of advocates and the fifth is the investigation by her office into her maladministration.
Well that’s Paul Hoffman who’s having a full go at the Public Protector. He is the founder and the man behind Accountability Now.