Public Protector's ABSA Report Struck Down By Court

Public Protector's ABSA Report Struck Down By Court

A full bench (three judges) said on Friday it was not necessary to set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's entire report, but only the parts which referred to the remedial action to be taken against Absa.

They said Mkhwebane did not fully understand her constitutional duty to be impartial and to perform her functions without fear, favour or prejudice.

The 2017 report said Barclays Africa's Absa owed the state more than R1 billion ($86 million) after it unduly benefited from government support when it bought Bankorp from Sanlam after the South African Reserve Bank helped keep the lender afloat in the days before apartheid ended. We call on her to step down with immediate effect; this judgment means she has failed in her duty. "She has already found Absa to be liable and decided that the money must be paid back", the judge said. "She failed to explain her actions adequately".

Mkhwebane also wanted the South African Constitution to be amended. The Public Protector also proposed changing the central bank's inflation-targeting mandate, a bid scrapped by the High Court in August.

The final nail in the coffin was when she was ordered to pay 15% of these costs in her personal capacity.

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Both the SARB and ABSA had filed court applications to have the court review the report and set it aside.

Breytenbach said the latest judgment against her was more proof that she should immediately be removed.

Mkhwebane recommended that the SIU reopen the investigation into the allegedly stolen funds, but the judges said she did not furnish any reasons as to why the Heath report's findings were irrelevant and why another investigation by the SIU was needed.

Noting the scathing criticism of Mkhwebane, ABSA said it was pleased that the court agreed that her process in drawing up the report was not procedurally fair. "She failed to disclose in the report that she had a meeting with the Presidency".

In a statement released on Saturday, Mkhwebane says her office will study the report and decide on appropriate action.

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