Glynnis Breytenbach. Picture: THE TIMES
Glynnis Breytenbach. Picture: THE TIMES

The ANC majority of parliament’s justice committee has controversially decided to recommend Kholeka Gcaleka as deputy public protector despite the strong objections by opposition parties.

The DA and the EFF strongly opposed the choice of the 38-year-old Gcaleka, who is the special adviser to public service & administration minister Senzo Mchunu and was special adviser to former home affairs and finance minister Malusi Gigaba. In her youth she was part of the leadership of the ANC Youth League.

The committee’s recommendation will have to be voted on by the National Assembly.

ANC MP Hishaam Mohamed said Gcaleka’s extensive legal and investigative experience would be invaluable for the public protector’s office. He said she was way ahead of other candidates, while ANC MP Nomathemba Maseko-Jele argued that she could not be crucified for the former positions she had held.

Gcaleka was one of two candidates flagged as questionable by Corruption Watch, but ANC MPs said she had satisfactorily addressed all the issues raised by the NGO during her interview.

The current deputy public protector, Kevin Malunga, is due to leave office early next month.

Candidates interviewed by the committee included Gcaleka; advocates Lwazi Kubukeli, Noxolo Mbangeni and Puleng Matshelo; Moshoeshoe Moshoeshoe, an attorney working at the SA Revenue Service (Sars) as a senior manager for legal; Shadrack Nkuna, an advocate and deputy director of public administration investigations at the Public Service Commission; and attorney Buang Jones, acting head of legal services at the SA Human Rights Commission.

The DA and EFF preferred Moshoeshoe, though DA justice spokesperson Glynnis Breytenbach said she was very disappointed by all the candidates and if the matter was not urgent would have suggested that the position be re-advertised.

She said the candidates had displayed a lack of legal knowledge and none could adequately describe what the rule of law and due process are, which was extremely concerning. She disagreed with the ANC that Gcaleka had conducted a stellar interview, saying she was defensive and emotional and did not answer all the questions adequately.

“I have very serious doubts about Ms Gcaleka and cannot possibly support her nomination,” Breytenbach said. She was very critical of Gcaleka’s support for former national director of prosecutions Menzi Simelane, who was responsible for undermining the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

During her interview Gcaleka defended herself on the issues flagged as a concern by Corruption Watch. She felt that the accusations made against her were “highly unfair”.

She denied that in 2010 as chair of the Society of State Advocates she had supported Simelane’s plan to close the specialised crime unit and Asset Forfeiture Unit as claimed by Corruption Watch. 

She also said that the court had rejected claims by a witness in the case of Richard Mdluli — a former head of police crime intelligence and now a convicted criminal — that she had tried to coerce him into implicating Mdluli as a guilty party. She served as senior deputy director of public prosecutions between 2011 and 2016.

Corruption Watch also claimed that in 2017, senior Treasury officials said that the Treasury was captured, citing, among other things, that during a forensic audit into Eskom’s coal contracts with a Gupta-owned company, documents that should have been seen by Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane were sent to Gigaba’s advisers first, including Gcaleka.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za