Mkhwebane to appeal Gordhan ruling, threatens to refer judge to JSC for ‘unbecoming’ language

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has expressed disappointment at Monday’s North Gauteng High court ruling that granted Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan an interim interdict.

In a statement released late on Monday night, Mkhwebane also said she’s considering approaching the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) over Judge Sulet Potterill’s “unbecoming” language.

Mkhwebane confirmed that she would appeal Judge Potterill’s ruling.

Rogue unit matter

Gordhan sought an interim interdict earlier in July against Mkhwebane’s remedial actions contained in her report on the so-called rogue unit at the South African Revenue Service (Sars).

Mkhwebane found that Gordhan had deliberately misled Parliament about a meeting with the Guptas.

She also found him in violation of the Constitution for establishing the “rogue unit” when he was still Sars Commissioner.

Among other remedial actions, she directed President Cyril Ramaphosa to take appropriate disciplinary action against Gordhan.

Following a hearing on 23 July, Judge Potterill granted Gordhan an interim interdict pending the outcome of his review application against the report.

Potterill ‘overreached’

However, Mkhwebane said Judge Potterill overreached by not confining herself to the interdict application and instead ventilating the merits of the review application itself.

This “tied the hands of and preempted the outcome of the review court,” she argued.

Mkhwebane found it “curious” that the judge ventilated the issue of former Sars Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay’s qualifications, but deferred Gordhan’s alleged disparaging remarks about her to the review application.

The Public Protector accused Judge Potterill of relying on her correspondence with the President which related to Pillay’s early retirement matter, not the “rogue unit” matter.

She also termed the judge’s use of the word “nonsensical” in her ruling as “outrageous,” “unbecoming,” and not in keeping with the court’s decorum.

In this regard, she said she’s considering legal recourse and remedies, including approaching the JSC.

Finally, Mkhwebane took issue with Potterill imposing a personal cost order against her.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which had opposed Gordhan’s interdict application along with Mkhwebane, also indicated that they would appeal the ruling.

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