The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) has confirmed it is investigating allegations of perjury laid against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said the DPCI was investigating the matter after it received a formal complaint registered at Ocean View SAPS in Cape Town.
National Head of the DPCI, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, confirmed the existence of allegations of perjury and defeating the ends of justice on Wednesday morning at a conference on fraud Johannesburg.
Lebeya said the case will focus on the complaint filed by Advocate Paul Hoffman from the anti-corruption pressure group Accountability Now.
The lobby group laid criminal charges of perjury and defeating the ends of justice against Mkhwebane; simultaneously lodging a maladministration complaint against her with the very office she heads, the public protector’s office.
Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe described the complaint laid against the public protector at the Office of the Public Protector as “strange.”
Oupa Segalwe added that Mkhwebane did not account to anyone except Parliament.
“Advocate Mkhwebane does not account to her deputy, nor does she answer to her staff. It’s the other way round. Someone needs to advise advocate [Paul] Hoffman SC to go to the National Assembly, where advocate Mkhwebane accounts.”
“The criminal complaint has been given Ocean View CAS no 09/08/2019 and will be investigated by the Hawks in Pretoria,” a statement from Accountability Now reads.
Regarding the “frivolous criminal charges,” Segalwe said “Adv. Mkhwebane — as a law abiding citizen — will cooperate with the police as best as she can.”
It’s understood that the perjury case arises from a Constitutional Court judgment that found Mkhwebane had been dishonest in her conduct in the investigation into the apartheid-era loan by the SA Reserve Bank to Bankorp, which is now part of Absa.
The move comes on the back of a series of legal blows against Mkhwebane, accompanied by calls from some quarters for her to step down.
The National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Justice will later this month examine Mkhwebane’s suitability for office after the DA requested such a process be instituted.
Amid the mounting pressure, the public protector hit back, complaining of a smear campaign against her because she is investigating “untouchables.”
Last month, Accountability Now asked the Legal Practice Council to strike Mkhwebane off the roll of advocates for perjury and for attempting to mislead the court.
“An advocate lying under oath in any court is a hanging offense as far as the fitness and properness of advocates to be on the roll of advocates. It is not appropriate that advocates lying to courts be allowed to remain on the roll of advocates,” Hoffman stated.