President Cyril Ramaphosa of SouthAfrica on Thursday suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane with immediate effect.

In a statement, the Presidency said this was “in accordance with section 194 (3)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa”.

“Section 194(3) (a) of the Constitution provides that the President may suspend the Public Protector (or any member of a Chapter 9 institution) “at any time after the start of proceedings by a committee of the National Assembly for [their] removal,” the statement added.

Last month, Mkhwebane outlined her reasons to Ramaphosa on why she should not be suspended pending impeachment proceedings in Parliament.

Parliament is already forging ahead with its inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

She will remain suspended until that probe is concluded.

“President Ramaphosa and Advocate Mkhwebane are both obligated to act in the best interest of the country, in compliance with the Constitution and mindful of the need to protect all Constitutional institutions. The President’s decision to suspend Advocate Mkhwebane is the best manner to fulfill these obligations,” the statement read.

It also added that: “Section 2A (7) of the Public Protector Act states that whenever the Public Protector is, for any reason unable to perform the functions of his or her office, or while the appointment of a person to the office of Public Protector is pending, the Deputy Public Protector shall perform such functions. The absence of Advocate Mkhwebane from office will therefore not impede the progress of any investigations that are pending or under way.”

On Wednesday, the Public Protector confirmed her office would be launching a probe into Ramaphosa’s Limpopo farm robbery.

This is after former spy boss, Arthur Fraser, laid criminal charges that emanated “from the [2020] theft of millions of US dollars (in excess of four million US dollars) concealed within the premises of the president’s Phala Phala farm in Waterberg, Limpopo, by criminals who were colluding with his domestic worker”.

“They also include defeating the ends of justice, kidnapping of suspects, their interrogation on his property and bribery. The president concealed the crime from the SAPS and / or SARS and thereafter paid the culprits for their silence,” he said at the beginning of this month.

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