Regard must be had to the higher standard of conduct expected from public officials, and the number of falsehoods that have been put forward by the Public Protector in the course of the litigation. This conduct included the numerous “misstatements”, like misrepresenting, under oath, her reliance on evidence of economic experts in drawing up the report, failing to provide a complete record, ordered and indexed, so that the contents thereof could be determined, failing to disclose material meetings and then obfuscating the reasons for them and the reasons why they had not been previously disclosed, and generally failing to provide the court with a frank and candid account of her conduct in preparing the report. The punitive aspect of the costs order therefore stands.
In the clip below Mr. Mac Maharaj (in an interview with Justice Malala) declines to state that he never lied to the Scorpions during a section 28 interview. Asked several times about this, he refused to deny that he lied. Lying to the Scorpions is prohibited by section 28 of the NPA Act. That section says that a persons who fails to answer fully and to the best of his or her ability any question lawfully put to him or her; or who gives false evidence knowing that evidence to be false or not knowing or not believing it to be true, is guilty of a crime and if found guilty would be liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
He also refused to deny that he had received a bribe from an arms deal company. Blustering, and claiming that he was being treated unfairly, he pointedly declined to say whether his wife received money from an arms deal company. In effect he admitted to payments as he said this was part of a much larger investigation and if one had the bigger picture one would not judge him. Making vague allegations that there were “many inaccuracies” in the Sunday Times article (thus admitting that many aspects of the article was true) he also appeared to argue that because he was never charged it is irrelevant whether him or his wife received a bribe from an arms deal company. As long as he was not charged, that should be the end of the matter.
The absence of a denial – even when given all opportunity to do so – raises very serious questions about the probity of the spokesperson of the President of South Africa. His performance in this interview, I am sad to say, leaves one with an uneasy feeling that Mr Maharaj has something to hide. Maybe he is just a bad spin doctor who does not have the ability to convey the truth with the necessary conviction and in a tone that instills trust. Or maybe he is as guilty as he inadvertently presents himself to be in this interview. Watch the full interview and judge for yourself.
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