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Public Protector suspended

President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane from the office of the Public Protector with immediate effect.

Mkhwebane is facing an impeachment nquiry which seeks to establish whether there are grounds for her removal from office.

A statement issued on Thursday by the president’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, said the suspension is accordance with section 194 (3)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

According to the statement, Section 194(3) (a) of the Constitution provides that the president may suspend the public protector “at any time after the start of proceedings by a committee of the National Assembly for [their] removal”.

“Advocate Mkhwebane will remain suspended until the section 194 process in the National Assembly has been completed,” said Magwenya in the statement.

“President Ramaphosa has fulfilled his obligation to provide Advocate Mkhwebane a fair hearing by according her sufficient time and opportunity to make submissions.

“In considering each element of the public protector’s submissions carefully, the president has taken into account the nature of the public protector’s office and his own constitutional obligations,” added Magwenya.

Explaining the suspension, the statement said Section 2A (7) of the Public Protector Act states that whenever the public protector is for any reason unable to perform the functions of his or her office, or while the appointment of a person to the office of public protector is pending, the deputy public protector shall perform such functions.

Magwenya said the absence of Advocate Mkhwebane from office is not expected to impede the progress of any investigations that are pending or underway.

“President Ramaphosa and Advocate Mkhwebane are both obligated to act in the best interest of the country, in compliance with the constitution and mindful of the need to protect all constitutional institutions. The president’s decision to suspend Advocate Mkhwebane is the best manner to fulfill these obligations,” he said.

Mkhwebane’s suspension comes just a day after her office confirmed it would probe Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala Farm multibillion-dollar robbery in 2020 in which he is accused of breaching the executive code of ethics by not reporting the crime to the police timeously.

In another twist to her fight to keep her job, information emerged yesterday that Mkhwebane had turned to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights saying her personal integrity was in “imminent danger” and wants R50-million in compensation from the South African government. – Staff Reporter

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