Tensions come to a head between Lebogang Maile and SAHRC at Alexandra inquiry

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Gauteng Human Settlements and Urban Planning MEC Lebogang Maile threatened to take the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to court on Tuesday after heated exchanges punctuated his submission at the Chapter 9 institution’s Alexandra inquiry. 

The threat came after Maile was given a warning by SAHRC Gauteng chairperson Buang Jones. 

Maile’s ire was raised when Jones questioned him about his engagements with City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba and his official visits to Alexandra.

Jones then told Maile he was in breach of the Constitution and SAHRC Act.

Maile kept on shaking his head in disagreement after Jones’ warning.

“We want assistance and clarification so that when we write a report it is a fair reflection of the proceedings. It is not intended to intimidate you as a member of the legislature…” said Jones.

I didn’t misbehave

“Don’t do that, what you quoted is not relevant. I didn’t misbehave. You can’t abuse our Constitution as well,” shouted Maile.

“I am an MEC, I know the importance of this Chapter 9 institution. Don’t do that to me. You asked me questions but don’t force me to respond. 

“…if you are not happy and you think I am vulgarising the process, your process. There is a process in the law that you must follow. I am not going to apologise for my opinions. I never insulted anyone. You have been making sweeping statements sitting in that chair … you are abusing this thing.”

Gesturing with his hands, Maile shouted he would never apologise, even if it meant going to court. 

“I know I took an oath and I know what that oath means. Don’t treat me like a small boy, the human rights commission is not God, it’s a Chapter 9 institution that is subject to the Constitution.

“If you want to do that we can meet in court, some of the questions are irrelevant and make no sense. Don’t do that. How should MECs behave. Should they not have opinions?”

Maile is allowed to have opinions, Jones said. 

“In fact, our Constitution guarantees that. The issue is your words that you have used, which are unfortunate and unwarranted. The usage of those words impugns the integrity of this process,” he said.

Maile then hit back. 

“Why do you want to censor me? I shouldn’t express my views? These are my views. I’m not agreeing with what you are saying because it lacks information. No, you can’t censor me in the name of the Constitution and Chapter 9 institution. You are not going to win with me.

“I have been respectful. I have been answering questions. I don’t know if you are playing with me. You can’t, don’t do that,” he said.

READ: Maile to appear before human rights commission over embattled Alex project

Earlier, Maile complained his elder brother, Mike Maile, was falsely implicated in the alleged misuse of funds meant for the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP).

He replied his brother was being singled out among other managers who had headed up the more than R1.3bn project.

“He is not my father. He is independent. Why would you link another person to the other? It is clear that it is a political agenda. We have said if there is anybody implicated, irrespective of our relationship, we will act decisively.

“The ARP project had seven managers, my brother being one of them. Why single him out?”

Maile said he does not have a problem with Mashaba investigating the project. 

“There have been several processes in the province. It’s his own money, he must investigate.”

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