Busisiwe Mkhwebane perjury trial set for March
Busisiwe Mkhwebane appeared briefly at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, on Thursday, where her triple perjury charge was officially registered.
Busisiwe Mkhwebane perjury trial gets a date
The matter has been postponed for Thursday 25 March at the request of the State. It’s understood that prosecutors need additional time to iron out final pre-trial issues.
Mkhwebane’s defence, led by Advocate Dali Mpofu, has made it clear that they are pushing for a withdrawal of all charges, citing faults in a case that, in their own words, is “frivolous and contrived.”
What is Mkhwebane in the dock for?
Per News24, the Public Protector, an embattled representative of Chapter 9 of our Constitution, was hit with perjury charges after non-profit organisation Accountability Now laid a complaint about Mkhwebane’s handling of the infamous Absa/Bankcorp report.
You may remember that in 2017, the bank group was faced with heaps of backlash after Mkhwebane’s report alleged that during the 1980s, Absa had received kickbacks from the apartheid government.
In her findings, Mkhwebane has unleashed the special investigations unit (SIU) to clamp down on the bank and collect more than R1.1 billion in alleged siphoned funds.
Upon review of the report, it was determined that Mkhwebane had made glaring errors, with instances of bias, in her investigation.
The matter stayed in deliberation until November 2020 when Gauteng’s director of public prosecutions Andrew Chauke found enough probable cause to register a triple perjury charge against the Public Protector.
Will Mkhwebane spend time in jail if found guilty
It’s still too early to make guesses about how this case will pan out in court. Mkhwebane faces a serious charge, since perjury carries a prison term, or a hefty fine in some cases.
For example, in The State vs Portia Ncamane, the Free State High Court sentenced Ncamane to six months imprisonment for perjury. However, the sentence was suspended for five years, “on condition that the accused is not again convicted of perjury.”
Currently, Mkhwebane is on a sabbatical and is expected to return to her duties on Wednesday 31 March 2021.