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Acting public protector Kholeka Gcaleka has withdrawn Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s court papers that sought to put a halt to impeachment proceedings. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Acting public protector Kholeka Gcaleka has withdrawn Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s court papers that sought to put a halt to impeachment proceedings. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Acting public protector Kholeka Gcaleka has distanced herself from the litigation by her suspended principal, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, in the Western Cape High Court.

In a letter to the registrar of the high court on Wednesday, Gcaleka said: “Please take note that the Seanago Attorneys were not authorised, instructed or briefed by me as the acting public protector or the CEO of the public protector as the accounting officer, to deliver the aforesaid application for leave to appeal nor the notice of amendment to Part B to the notice of motion.”

On Monday, Mkhwebane’s attorneys, Seanago, filed an application for leave to appeal against a judgment from the Cape high court that refused to grant her an interim “Part A” interdict to put a halt to impeachment proceedings in parliament and prevent her suspension by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

When Mkhwebane lost Part A she had also sought to have “Part B” of her case in the Western Cape High Court — to set aside her challenge her suspension as well as all the steps taken so far in the impeachment process — heard urgently. She had amended her court papers in this part of her case. This had been scheduled for July 25 and 26.

But Gcaleka said: “In the circumstances, we intend delivering notices of withdrawal of the aforesaid application for leave to appeal, as well the notice of motion, on behalf of the PPSA.”

She said that “Seanago Attorneys and counsels” were not authorised to act on behalf of the public protector of SA (PPSA). She did not mention counsel by name, but it has been Dali Mpofu who has led the team for the public protector in this litigation.

“I have instructed attorneys Salijee Govender Van der Merwe to prepare and file the above-mentioned notices,” she said.

Gcaleka said that if Mkhwebane decided to pursue the applications in her personal capacity, the public protector would “abide by the decision of the court”.

“We humbly apologise for any inconvenience to the court and the respondents caused by the aforementioned applications,” said the letter.

This is not the first time Gcaleka has appeared to be at odds with Mkhwebane. When Mkhwebane said the public protector had initiated its own investigation into the SMS sent by Ismail Abramjee, which she said suggested a possible leak from the Constitutional Court, she said the investigation would be conducted under the guidance of her deputy. But Gcaleka wrote to the state attorney to say she had no knowledge of this investigation.

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