Free Rider – Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s rent-free stay from…

The Public Protector’s Office confirmed through Spokesperson Oupa Segalwe that it had paid R3.7 million for the accommodation of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane at the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), who oversees the Bryntirion complex in Pretoria. This consisted of R1.9m in the 2021/22 financial year and R1.8m in previous years.

In March 2022, Daily Maverick revealed that Mkhwebane had moved into the exclusive Bryntirion estate in Pretoria in 2017. There she lived rent-free in a luxury home at R60,000 per month before moving, in April 2021, to a smaller three-bedroom duplex on the estate at R11,000 per month.

This is despite Mkhwebane receiving a housing allowance as part of his annual salary of around R2.3 million.

Earlier, Daily Maverick reported that in February 2017, four months after his appointment, Mkhwebane moved into the ministerial domain, becoming a neighbor of President Jacob Zuma and his executive.

The Bryntirion estate is made up of 28 properties and includes the residence of the president, Mahlamba Ndlopfu, as well as the OR Tambo house (residence of the vice president), 15 tennis courts, a nine-hole golf course and a helipad.

Everything including DStv, internet, gardening and security is free.

DPWI spokeswoman Zara Nicholson said Daily Maverick that Mkhwebane “had to be moved” to a government “apartment” after her safety was “reassessed” by police in July 2020.

According to Nicholson, the SAPS was of the opinion that “the security measures in place around the Québec Ombudsman must continue”.

She was, however, unable to explain why the PP “had to be removed” from her former home. The Office of the Public Protector had signed a lease with the DPWI and paid rent, Nicholson also confirmed.

Segalwe has since confirmed that the PP office has asked the new SAPS National Commissioner Fannie Masemola, a threat record set by former commissioner Khehla Sitole. The PP office had no record of the assessment, he confirmed.

Records show that the unhealthy arrangement began in 2017 when the new Minister of Public Works, Nathi Nhleko (Minister of Police until March 2017), authorized the occupation of the house by Mkhwebane due to a “ increased level of risk.

In 2017, the then Department of Public Works was approached by the Office of the Divisional Commissioner of SAPS: Protective Services, to “provide a secure residence for the Public Protector.”

The head of the protection services at the time happened to be Lieutenant General Khehla Sitole.

Nine months later, in November 2017, Sitole was appointed National Police Commissioner by Jacob Zuma.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela said Daily Maverick that the provision of public accommodation was not part of his contract. Madonsela received police protection just a year after her appointment and later moved, at her expense, to a safe estate.

Meanwhile, News24 reported that Mkhwebane had purchased a series of propertiesone a short distance from his office in Pretoria.

Journalist Kyle Cowan revealed that Mkhwebane bought a R4.7 million property in a premium estate in Tshwane in February 2022 and a R2.5 million unit in Ballito, KZN in May 2019. Both properties are linked to the value of R3.7 million and R2 0.2 million respectively.

As head of an independent Chapter Nine institution, Mkhwebane is not allowed to live in Bryntirion’s domain alongside those she is charged with overseeing. DM

Earnest L. Veasey