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Public Protector’s office to set aside R7m for Mkhwebane’s legal representation: Gcaleka – SABC News

The Office of the Public Protector says it expects to pay about R7 million for the legal representation of suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in her impeachment hearing this financial year.

Mkhwebane is currently facing a parliamentary inquiry into her competence to hold office. The hearing was originally scheduled to end this financial year, but is likely to continue into the new year.

The Public Protector’s office briefs the portfolio justice committee on their annual financial report.

Public Protector’s office needs another R7 million for Mkhwebane enquiry: Atty. Gcaleka

Mkhwebane won a case in the Constitutional Court where she challenged parliamentary rules that did not allow her legal representative to speak during the impeachment hearing.

She is represented by Seanego Attorneys who brief Dali Mpofu as lead counsel. PPSA chief executive Thandi Sibagyoni says they will be able to cover the costs with help from the Ministry of Justice.

“It’s an expense that we haven’t actually budgeted for.” However, we are negotiating for the current financial year with the Ministry of Justice to bail us out as well and it looks like they might be able to help. But for the next financial year, if this process extends beyond the current financial year, we may need additional funding for this because it is an expense that we did not expect and did not budget for,” Sibagyoni said.

Sibagyoni admitted that their current security measures, especially in their regional offices, were not up to the required standard.

This is an issue that members of the Portfolio Committee have raised as an issue in the past. She says they have begun the process of addressing those concerns.

“During this reporting period, we managed to hire 28 new employees. It’s unfortunate that like us humans, others leave for promotions and possibly other reasons. We recruited 28, but then had 24 people leave the institution. And at the end of the reporting season, our vacancy rate was 7.18%,” she adds.

On the issue of staffing, she pointed out that the public defender’s office has a very high turnover rate.

She says most of their staff are young, mobile professionals who are in demand and being pushed out of higher paying departments in government.

“We want at least in the next financial year an amount of 6.1 million for security. We are currently undertaking a process to audit all our offices to know what level of security to implement. We need to do an audit to determine the risk associated with each office because that will inform us about the degree and number of security we use for each office,” she adds.

Although the office managed to get another clean audit, there were still some irregularities. They have an irregular expenditure of over R10 million which is justified by the National Treasury.

For the current year, the office had wasteful and fruitless expenditure of R52 000. However, the Auditor General found that these figures were not significant enough to affect their clean audit.

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