Dr Bandile Masuku
PHOTO: Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images via Getty Image
- Bandile Masuku failed in his bid to have a SIU report overturned.
- The embattled former MEC was dismissed in October last year.
- The court found that some of his complaints on the unit’s findings were “ill-founded”.
The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has dismissed an application by former Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku to challenge the findings of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
The court dismissed the application with costs, including that of two counsel.
The embattled former MEC was axed after the SIU placed him at the centre of tender processes in the Gauteng health department, in which presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband received a R125 million tender for the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), News24 previously reported.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura removed Masuku, based on the SIU preliminary report, which found that “he failed to execute his function in compliance with the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA)”.
Masuku approached the high court, asking it to rule the SIU’s findings were unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid, and that it be set aside. He accused the SIU of having no “shred of evidence” that he was guilty and said they were only relying on evidence from one source.
In Monday’s judgment, the court found that Masuku’s complaint that the SIU did not allow him to challenge the findings was “ill-founded”.
The former MEC also complained about certain people not being interviewed by the unit and that its attempt to get further information was evidence of irrationality because it had already made its findings.
The court said this perspective from Masuku was misdirected because the reports were clear that investigations were not complete.
It also said Makhura’s submission that the SIU cannot compel another organ of state to do anything was correct, but the unit never purported to do so when it expressed its recommendations in its report.
“The premier was, therefore, not instructed to do anything. An opinion was expressed that there was a case to meet on the grounds of neglect of duty.
“The premier had no obligation in law to give that opinion any weight, nor is there any basis in the evidence to hint that the premier thought he was bound by the recommendation, nor indeed whether the premier drew his own conclusions from the raw facts discovered or gave weight to the recommendations.
“Moreover, whether the removal of a political office-bearer is an instance of “administrative action” is a question not necessary to address in this judgment.”
The court ruled that, in its view, the SIU was not irrational in forming its opinion on Masuku and that it had reported its findings to Premier David Makhura and President Cyril Ramaphosa, based on what it had found after investigating, in which it deemed Masuku’s conduct to be wanting.
“To form such an opinion is plainly within its scope of functions. No irrationality can exist in the SIU being disappointed by Dr Masuku’s discharge of his role. The fact that Dr Masuku held a different view about his accountability is unimportant.”
The court found that no irrationality could exist in the SIU, finding Masuku wrong in executing his duties.
“The SIU has no obligation to defer to Dr Masuku’s perspective, which he voiced fully and was part of the matrix of facts investigated. The application is dismissed with costs, including the costs of two counsel.”
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the unit welcomed the judgment, saying it was an affirmation that the unit conducted its investigations based on evidence.
Masuku told News24 he would release a statement in reply to the court judgment later in the day.
This article has been updated.