Parliament – The interviews of candidates to take over as the next Public Protector got under way in the National Assembly on Thursday with one candidate questioned on failure to disclose his run-ins with the law.

Judge Michael Mthembu of the Electoral Court faced tough questions from MPs on his past.

Glynnis Breytenbach of the DA fired the first salvo on Mthembu, who has a 35-year legal history. She asked about judgments against him by Nedbank and the South African Revenue Service.

He denied any knowledge on any financial issues related to SARS, but admitted that Nedbank had a judgment against him from last year for outstanding fees on a bond.

This led to more MPs questioning his suitability to manage the finances of the Office of the Public Protector.

Mthembu said he was in the process of negotiating with Nedbank to settle the outstanding debt, but did not reveal the amounts involved.

Judge Sharise Weiner of the Johannesburg High Court was the next candidate to be grilled by the panel of MPs.

She was asked by ANC Madipoane Mothapo about delays in delivering some of the judgments in the High Court.

Weiner said there had been one or two cases where judgments were delayed by two days after the prescribed period.

This was in the main because they have to sit in other courts, write judgments in between and also hear other matters.

She said she had been thorough with her judgments and has delivered about 400 judgments in the past five years.
Floyd Shivambu of the EFF asked her about her involvement in the struggle against apartheid.

She said she was a member of the student movement in the 1970s at university and defended a lot of activists in the 1980s when she was practicing as an attorney and later as an advocate.


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