South Africa

South Africa's anti-corruption chief 'lied under oath'

Andrew Harding

BBC News, Johannesburg

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane pictured in 2017.
Gallo Images

South Africa's highest court has ruled that the public protector - the state official in charge of investigating corruption - lied under oath and acted in bad faith.

In a devastating judgment the constitutional court said the public protector, Busisiwe Mkwebane, should pay a fine for her dishonesty.

For a young and fractious democracy, this is a significant moment.

Mrs Mkhwebane must pay some £50,000 ($62,000) in legal fees from her own pocket. A fine, in other words.

This particular case involves a complicated dispute between the public protector and South Africa’s Reserve Bank.

But many of Mrs Mkhwebane's recent anti-graft reports have become swamped by scandal – and led to claims that she’s siding with a corrupt and marginalised faction within the governing ANC.

The courts have repeatedly overruled her, and President Cyril Ramaphosa is now challenging another of her reports, which found he had lied to parliament.

The public protector is supposed to be politically neutral. But the Constitutional Court’s devastating judgement will add weight to claims that Busisiwe Mkhwebane is involved in a dirty-tricks campaign to undermine the president and halt his campaign against high-level corruption.

Mrs Mkhwebane has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Reacting to the judgement today, she noted that the court had not been unanimous.

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South Africa's president 'deliberately misled parliament'

Andrew Harding

BBC News, Johannesburg

South Africa’s corruption watchdog has accused President Cyril Ramaphosa of deliberately misleading parliament.

The finding was made at the same time that the country’s former President Jacob Zuma announced he was withdrawing from a separate corruption inquiry.

It’s been a dramatic morning in South Africa as the country struggles to tackle high-level corruption.

First came the news that the former President Jacob Zuma was refusing to continue giving evidence at a public inquiry into the corruption that took place on his watch.

He accused the judge-led inquiry of being biased against him. Judge Ray Zondo disagreed and expressed his disappointment.

Then came a separate announcement from the public protector – a state official charged with exposing corruption.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane said the current president had misled parliament over a donation his election campaign received, via his son.

Mr Ramaphosa insists he knew nothing about the donation at the time.

There is speculation here that the public protector has become a partisan figure – and that a sinister campaign is under way, a fight-back by marginalised elites in the governing ANC, who are looking to seize power.

South African army deployed to halt gang violence

Vauldi Carelse

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

Soldiers in Cape Town

South African soldiers are patrolling the streets of some Cape Town suburbs, which have been plagued by gang violence.

More than 40 people were killed last weekend.

It has taken troops just over a week to deploy to help reinforce police in their fight against a surge in the murder rate.

With armoured vehicles and heavily armed soldiers, the army arrived on Thursday to some fanfare, but also concern from residents.

They’ve been conducting stop and search operations in Manenberg, an area known for gang violence.

Troops will be deployed to 10 troubled suburbs on the Cape Flats.

Mortuary statistics show a sharp increase in the number deaths in the area, with more than 1,000 people killed this year alone.

Last month, six police officers from the anti-gang unit were shot and seriously wounded while on patrol.

This is not the first time the defence force is being deployed. Four years ago, the army accompanied police and other government departments on an anti-crime operation.

But critics say the army may not be the solution to the violence that has plagued the Cape Flats for years.