South Africa: Concourt Warns Against Unfounded Personal Cost Orders Against Public Protector

The Constitutional Court has considered four personal cost orders against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and upheld only one. On Tuesday, the court warned that awarding such orders without merit would weaken Mkhwebane’s office and damage democracy. In the ruling, the court also dismissed her appeal to subpoena tax records.
The Constitutional Court has warned the country’s high courts to be wary of issuing personal cost orders against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane without merit, as it set aside another such order on Tuesday.
The court overturned a North Gauteng High Court order that said she must personally pay 15% of SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter’s legal fees in her failed attempt to convince the court that she had the power to subpoena confidential tax records.

The case stems from a subpoena Mkhwebane issued to former SARS acting commissioner Mark Kingon to provide former president Jacob Zuma’s tax records. She was investigating allegations that Zuma had received payments from businessman Roy Moodley’s company Royal Security.
The Constitutional Court dismissed her appeal on the subpoena matter, saying Mkhwebane had not shown that the matter was urgent and did not prove she had a right to access tax records.
Mkhwebane argued that the Constitution entitled…

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