South Africa’s Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has announced on Monday 18 January that she will be taking some time off work – two and a half month, in fact – to “get some rest”.
In her absence, South Africa’s Deputy Public Protector, Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka will take the reigns.
Mkhwebane to take leave
Mkhwebane’s office released a statement on Monday afternoon in which they confirmed that the beleaguered public protector would be taking a “sabbatical” that runs until the end of March 2021.
“Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane has gone on a sabbatical leave to get some rest. The leave commenced on 15 January 2021 and will end on 31 March 2021,” the statement reads.
“Such a leave of absence is provided for in the Terms and Conditions applicable to the position of Public Protector.”
Public Protector continues to face scrutiny
In the past few years, Mkhwebane has found herself locked in a number of high-profile legal disputes. In that time, she has lost cases against Cyril Ramaphosa, Pravin Gordhan, and the SA government as a collective.
Most recently, Mkhwebane was charged by the National Prosecuting Authority on three counts of perjury following a complaint received by the Hawks from lobby group Accountability Now.
“The NPA wishes to confirm that the DPP Paul Hoffman indeed took a decision to prosecute [The Public Protector] after he carefully assessed the evidence presented to him by the Hawks, following a complaint laid by the lobby group Accountability Now. This is in line with the prosecution policy and the law,” said the NPA in a statement in December.
Parliament made aware of leave decision
The Public Protector’s office cofirmed that Gcaleka will take over from her superior in the interim.
“While Adv. Mkhwebane is away, Deputy Public Protector, Adv. Kholeka Gcaleka, is holding the fort as acting Public Protector. Adv. Gcaleka’s tenure in this regard started on 15 January 2021 and will run until and including 31 March 2021,” they said, adding that parliament has been made aware of Mkhwebane’s leave.
“The Speaker of the National Assembly is aware and has given Adv. Mkhwebane the go-ahead,” they said.