Public Protector looks for new FS head

PHOTO: ANA Archive

The Public Protector’s (PP) provincial representative position in the Free State has officially been advertised.

This, after Busisiwe Mkhwebane has dismissed her senior representative, Hamilton Samuel, following months of suspension.

In an exclusive interview with OFM News, Samuel confirmed he was served with a dismissal letter at the end of last year and that he is challenging his dismissal. He was suspended in March 2020 after penning an open letter to Mkhwebane, calling for her resignation. He said Mkhwebane was unfit to hold office and has brought nothing to the chapter 9 institution, but disrepute. He said Mkhwebane has, on several occasions, failed to uphold the office’s mandate nor did a thorough investigation on various cases.

He has highlighted that several reports taken on review and lost court battles against her were a clear indication of her incompetence. Whilst the Public Protector is now looking for a new Bloemfontein-based provincial head, Samuel told OFM News that he is challenging his dismissal on grounds of procedural unfairness.

Samuel last month said he has been served with a dismissal letter following a disciplinary hearing that took place in his absence late last year.

“The hearing first proceeded in October where I was present with my legal representative and the matter was then postponed to November the 23rd. A few days before then, I informed the Chairperson, HR and legal representative that I have been in contact with a relative that tested positive for Covid-19 and that I have been advised by my doctor to quarantine for 10 to 14 days.”

Samuel said he had contacted his legal representative to seek a postponement, but the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing refused the request. The hearing proceeded without him or his representative as he asked to be excused after seeking a postponement.

“The hearing then proceeded in my absence and that is what culminated in me being found guilty, without presenting my side of the evidence or even cross-examining any of the witnesses of the employer,” he added.

Whilst Samuel has maintained that Mkhwebane has brought the Office of the Public Protector into disarray and must vacate office, Mkhwebane is at this stage on a sabbatical until the end of March.