The Constitutional Court overturned a Supreme Court decision that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s suspension of the attorney general was invalid.
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- The Constitutional Court overturned a ruling by the Western Cape High Court that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s public defender’s suspension – a day after it announced an investigation into the break-in on his farm – was invalid.
- The DA and Ramaphosa have both appealed the Supreme Court ruling, and the Public Defender has appealed.
- The Supreme Court unanimously found that Ramaphosa acted rationally and within the law.
In a unanimous ruling written by Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maia, the Constitutional Court upheld President Cyril Ramaphosa’s suspension of Public Defender Busisiwe Mkhwebani and denied her request to stay the Article 194 investigation into her suitability for office on Thursday.
In June 2022, two days after Mkhwebani informed him that she was investigating the case of Vala Vala, Ramaphosa suspended her.
This came after letters have been sent back and forth since March regarding her suspension, pending a Section 194 investigation, which began in July.
Mkhwebani has applied to the Western Cape High Court to have the suspension set aside and the Section 194 process declared illegal.
In September, a full panel of that court appeared unconvinced by the bulk of Mkhuebani’s impeachment appeals, but found that “on the merits, the decision [Mkhwebane] To investigate the president and ask him 31 questions [about the break-in]I prompted the chief not to wait a day later and suspend her immediately.”
Given that Ramaphosa was “sitting with a letter from [Mkhwebane] With a long list of questions “which he was required to answer within 14 days at the time he made her suspension, the High Court found that “to suggest that such a suspension would have no effect on delaying the course of the investigation would be a difficult motion to support convincingly.”
Third, the expanded nature of the questions the President was asked to answer in the short period of time mentioned in relation to events that occurred about two years ago may have led the President to conclude that he was ‘there you go again’ in those circumstances, rather than having to deal with them. [Mkhwebane]He was better off with just about anyone [Mkhwebane]came in.
But the Supreme Court has not yet approved the DA and Ramaphosa’s appeal.
Mkhwebani lodged an appeal against him, which the Supreme Court found unfounded.
Public Defender Busisiwe Mkhwebani listens to her testimony during her impeachment hearings in July last year.
Judge Maia said they found that the mere fact that Mkhoebani was investigating Ramaphosa, was not sufficient to say there was a conflict of interest when he suspended her.
The suspension was of no use to him, as it did not impede the investigation, and there was no evidence that he had suspended it because of the investigation into Phala Phala.
“It cannot be said that the president’s decision was illogical,” Maya said.
Furthermore, the court found that Ramaphosa had “reasonable grounds” for the suspension, including to allow her to prepare for impeachment proceedings. She added that the suspension would not cause her irreparable harm.
The court also indicated that the independent committee appointed by Parliament found that there was a prima facie case for her removal, and that the court itself had reached “serious” findings against her in the past.
Mkhuebani must pay part of the costs personally.
And hear the arguments in November.
Mkhuebani and the ATM complained about the long wait for the verdict. Mkhwebani said the verdict would be academic only.
Thanks for the valid sentiment but I’m on record by saying that since the comment has now served its political purpose I am no longer interested in this ruling, whatever the outcome the Constitutional Court should have acted above politics, perhaps they should send it to the law… https://t.co/1V20cRL3Xl
– Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane (@AdvBMkhwebane) July 3, 2023
On 30 June, Acting Advocate General Julika Jkalka issued a report on Phala Phala, who finished off Ramaphosa.
After several delays, Mkhwebani did not conclude her testimony prior to the Section 194 investigation and refused to answer the committee’s questions, which she had to submit in writing.
The committee will now only actually consider the evidence before it adopts its report on July 28.
Mkhibani’s term ends on October 14, at which time she will receive a bonus of about 10 million rand.