In the midst of a raging storm, South Africa’s public protector has expressed her stoic resolve to stand and defend the truth.
Mkhwebane on Friday lashed out at people and organisations who wanted her to be removed from office, saying she would always know the truth even if they succeeded.
Mkhwebane was addressing a crowd of about 400 people at the KwaMhlanga show grounds in Mpumalanga, where religious leaders from various churches, political party leaders and members of the public held a prayer session for her. She said her office was doing its work and producing reports in accordance with the law, not on the basis of what the media or some people were saying about other people.
“There is still a lot of work that we have to do… there are still many complaints,” said Mkhwebane.
“We are doing our work without fear and favour. And it pains me that there are recommendations that we were making in the Reserve Bank and Absa matter that there is money that had to be paid back to the fiscus to benefit the South Africans. But the challenge is that you should not touch those particular elements. You should only focus on certain individuals that you are driven to focus on.”
Mkhwebane said her mother, Martha Mkhwebane, was initially uncomfortable with her appointment to her current job. She said this was because of the manner in which her predecessor, Professor Thuli Madonsela, was treated, but Mkhwebane did not elaborate on the treatment in question.
Addressing the same gathering, president of the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) Bathabile Dlamini said all the people who previously occupied the office of the Public Protector did not face fights from the public like Mkhwebane. Dlamini took a swipe at the South African court judges, especially the female judges.
“It was being said ‘let them be given a chance to do their work’,” said Dlamini.
“Judges, especially female judges, think they flew to be there. Whenever I think about you [Mkhwebane], I get angry and cry. I have also experienced what is happening to you.”
The event was organised by, among others, the Victory Fellowship World Outreach Centre. Bishop Lucas Mthombeni told Mkhwebane that the challenges she was facing would, in fact, make her stronger.
“God has come down to talk about what is happening,” said Mthombeni.
“You have touched the untouchables in order to change the unchangeable and reach the unreachable. We are here to break the chain of satanism in the office of the public protector, which is led by our sister, Busisiwe.”
The prayer for Mkhwebane was inspired by the Constitutional Court judgment delivered on July 22, in which it upheld an earlier Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruling that ordered her to personally pay 15% of the South African Reserve Bank’s legal fees in the Absa/Bankorp matter.
Some political parties, civil society organisations and members of the public subsequently called for Mkhwebane’s removal from office.