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The resolution of the R10 million gratuity issue involving Mkhwebane is postponed until Thursday

  • Legal Dispute: Busisiwe Mkhwebane, former Public Protector, is embroiled in a legal battle over the non-payment of her R10 million gratuity after being impeached.
  • Constitutional Challenge: Mkhwebane alleges that the Office of the Public Protector's refusal to pay her gratuity is unconstitutional and violates her rights to fair labor practices.
  • Upcoming Hearing: The court has adjourned the case until Thursday to allow both parties to clarify their positions, with Mkhwebane expected to argue her case based on labor laws governing post-employment compensation.
High Court in Pretoria

The legal dispute involving Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the Office of the Public Protector, and others has been adjourned until Thursday to give the parties time to clarify their positions on the matter they want the court to address.

Mkhwebane urgently approached the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria regarding the non-payment of her R10 million gratuity. This action comes after her impeachment in a Section 194 inquiry just a month before her scheduled completion of tenure at the Chapter Nine institution.

Seeking redress, Mkhwebane is asking the court to rule on the alleged unconstitutional and invalid conduct of the Office of the Public Protector and its head, Advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, for refusing to pay her gratuity.

Judge Colleen Collis, in her ruling, announced the adjournment until Thursday, April 18, 2024, at 10:00, for further hearing. She noted that the parties had committed to submitting a letter to the court by noon tomorrow outlining the specific issues to be addressed during the upcoming hearing.

Mkhwebane is expected to base her argument on Section 32 Subsection 3 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which stipulates that employers must settle remuneration within seven days of the termination of employment contracts. She contends that her rights to fair labor practices have been violated.

On the other hand, a report from October of the previous year indicated that Gcaleka had initiated efforts to recover funds from Mkhwebane following her removal from the position of Public Protector. Gcaleka stated that it is within Parliament’s purview to decide whether Mkhwebane should receive the R10 million gratuity benefit.

The dispute revolves around the alleged failure of the Office of the Public Protector to compensate Mkhwebane upon her exit from the role, despite statutory provisions requiring timely payment of such benefits. Mkhwebane argues that this omission constitutes a breach of her rights to fair labor practices, as enshrined in relevant legislation.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the central issue remains the interpretation and application of labor laws governing the compensation of public officials upon their departure from office. The outcome of this case will likely have implications for the handling of similar situations in the future, setting a precedent for the treatment of outgoing officeholders within the Chapter Nine institution.

Both parties await the court’s decision on Thursday, which will provide clarity on the contentious matter and potentially establish guidelines for the resolution of similar disputes in the future. Until then, the adjournment allows for further deliberation and preparation by all involved parties to ensure a thorough and fair consideration of the issues at hand.

In the interim, the public awaits developments in this high-profile legal battle, which not only concerns the rights and entitlements of Busisiwe Mkhwebane but also raises broader questions about the accountability and obligations of public institutions in South Africa.

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